August 18, 2017 / 11:17 PM / a year ago

Muguruza outlasts Kuznetsova, next faces Pliskova in Cincinnati

(Reuters) - Fourth-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza won a lengthy battle against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-2 5-7 7-5 on a hot and windy day on Friday to reach the Cincinnati Open semi-finals.

Aug 18, 2017; Mason, OH, USA; Garbine Muguruza (ESP) returns a shot against Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) during the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Wimbledon champion Muguruza stuck out her tongue in exasperation after finally prevailing in the two hour 45-minute contest between the two grand slam winners.

Playing a day after deadly attacks killed a total of 14 people in Barcelona and the coastal town of Cambrils in Spain, Muguruza wore a white visor with a black ribbon as a tribute.

“Barcelona te siento. Barcelona I feel you,” Muguruza wrote on Twitter after the match.

Muguruza next faces world number one Karolina Pliskova, who won back-to-back matches on Friday.

The Czech first defeated Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 6-3 4-6 6-0 in a match postponed by a day because of rain.

The top seed then took another step toward successfully defending her title by overpowering former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 in her second match.

Pliskova had 27 winners to Wozniacki’s eight with only 13 unforced errors compared to the sixth-seeded Dane’s 19.

Second seed Simona Halep also beat Britain’s Johanna Konta for the first time in an exciting back and forth 6-4 7-6(1) victory.

Halep capitalized on a service break in the first set and then raced out to a 4-1 lead in the second before Konta fought back to send it into a tie-break.

The Romanian, however, dominated the tie-break to set up a semi-final match against American Sloane Stephens.

The American continued her strong form following her return at Wimbledon after an 11-month absence with a foot injury by defeating Germany’s Julia Goerges 6-1 7-6(3).

Stephens had earlier beaten Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Reporting by Rory Carroll; ediitng by Ken Ferris

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