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Kasatkina upsets Muguruza in Sydney, to face Badosa in semis

 
Sydney, Jan 13 (IANS) Daria Kasatkina defeated No.2 seed Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinal of the Sydney Tennis Classic, here on Thursday.

Kasatkina will face No.5 seed Paula Badosa who overcame Belinda Bencic 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-3 in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Kasatkina, who reached the last four at Melbourne Summer Set 2 last week before losing to Amanda Anisimova, has yet to drop a set in Sydney. This efficiency has snapped the run of four three-setters the Russian has played against Muguruza dating back to 2017; her first straight-sets win of their rivalry levels the overall head-to-head at three apiece.

The victory is also Kasatkina's first Top 5 win since defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2018, and her ninth overall.

"I think this is the best start of my career ever. I think I never start the season that well. To win always feels amazing. Doesn't matter if you are winning the matches right before a slam and you maybe feel you're tired - it doesn't matter, because better you win the matches than you lose the first round, and then you go and you have one week to practice, but for what? You have been practicing the whole preseason," said Kasatkina after the match.

In the second quarterfinals, Badosa has dominated their professional rivalry, led 5-3 in the first set, but ultimately needed six set points to close out Bencic, who was contesting her second match of the day after completing a rain-delayed comeback over Oceane Dodin earlier.

Despite coming out on the wrong end of the first-set tussle, the Olympic gold medallist Bencic bounced back to take the second thanks to a slew of dropshots. However, Badosa proved stronger in the closing stretch as Bencic faded somewhat.

"The key was to stay fighting until the end, like I always try to do," said Badosa. "Accepting her good moments, because I think she played amazing and I had a lot of chances and I wasn't taking them. Then I think in the third set I was going for it, very aggressive, and that's what gave me the match."

--IANS
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