Siniakova stuns Sharapova

Czech to face World No 1 Halep in final

Siniakova stuns Sharapova

Czech defending champion Katerina Siniakova fended off Maria Sharapova in a fiercely contested match at the Shenzhen Open on Friday to set up a final with world number one Simona Halep.

Siniakova fired 27 winners and 10 aces to prevail 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 but was made to work hard for the win after Russian Sharapova rediscovered her rhythm midway through the contest.

After losing the first set, Sharapova attacked Siniakova's serve to seal an early break in the second set.

The five-times Grand Slam champion gave little away after that and levelled the contest at one set apiece.

A stinging backhand down the line gave Siniakova a decisive break in the final set and the sixth seed hung on to close out the match in just under two hours.

Halep beat fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-4 in one hour 29 minutes to claim a second career final spot at Shenzhen.

The top seed broke Begu early in the contest to race into a 4-1 lead. Begu sent a forehand wide in a see-sawing sixth game as Halep broke again and took the first set on serve.

Fourth seed Begu, seeking a first win over Halep at her sixth attempt, fought back to lead 3-2 in the second set but Halep eventually subdued the comeback attempt to seal victory.

"It was a tough match," Halep said in a courtside interview. "I know she is a strong player and in the second set you could see she was improving her game so it was a tougher battle.

"I think I was strong enough to stay there and hit the ball stronger in the end because the energy (from Begu) was falling a little bit. I came back, I served pretty well in the last game and I'm pretty proud of my victory today, it was a tough one."

Sasnovich in final

Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich became the first qualifier ever to reach the final of the Brisbane International tennis tournament when she beat seventh-seeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova on Friday.

The 23-year-old Sasnovich outlasted Sevastova 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in 93 minutes to move into Saturday's final against either Karolina Pliskova or Elina Svitolina.

Sasnovich has had a gruelling tournament this week, coming through three rounds of qualifying and four main draw matches to reach the final.

In four of those matches she has needed to come from a set down, and had spent over 10 hours on court before her semifinal.

She is also playing with both thighs heavily strapped and has needed injury timeouts in her last three matches.

However, she showed no signs of fatigue during the first set and was stronger than Sevastova in the tiebreaker, taking an early lead and holding on to win the first set.

The second set went with serve until 4-4 when Sasnovich attacked with some powerful returns to break the Latvian.

She then comfortably held her own serve to book a spot in the final.

"It was a very good match and I'm really happy to finish in two sets," Sasnovich said.

"It was very close with Anastasija. We play at the same level.

"I took all my chances today as well. I served well, played well from the baseline. I'm happy with my win today."

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