(Reuters) -Spain’s Garbine Muguruza reached the semi-finals of the season-ending WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico, after beating Anett Kontaveit, while Karolina Pliskova missed the cut despite her comeback victory over Barbora Krejcikova on Sunday.
Muguruza ended Kontaveit’s 12-match winning streak with a 6-4 6-4 win over the Estonian, booking a spot in the knockout stage for the first time since her tournament debut in 2015.
Muguruza won a remarkable 80% of her first serve points and fired seven aces in Sunday’s victory as she finished second in the “Teotihuacan Group” behind Kontaveit, with both posting a 2-1 record.
“Today was a match that was kind of everything or nothing,” Muguruza told reporters. “Starting the round-robin with a loss, it was never good. To finally get two wins and qualify was amazing.”
Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza will face compatriot Paula Badosa in Tuesday’s semi-final. The winner of the contest will be the first Spanish woman to reach the final since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario finished runner-up in 1993.
“I didn’t know all of this history,” Muguruza said. “1993, I was born that year.
“It’s amazing that there are four players left and two of them are Spaniards. That just shows that Spain has a great level of tennis.”
Earlier, Pliskova came out on top in an all-Czech showdown, storming back to stun compatriot Krejcikova 0-6 6-4 6-4.
Despite the win, Pliskova failed to reach the semi-finals as she finished third in the group, with Kontaveit and Muguruza advancing as the top two. Second-seeded Krejcikova ended bottom after losing all three matches.
The WTA Finals divides the top eight players into two groups of four, with each player competing in three matches. The top two from each group advance to the semi-finals.
“The first game was super long and I somehow lost my focus and of course I was a bit nervous to play a Czech woman,” Pliskova said after the match.
“It wasn’t easy at all, at some point I thought it is almost over in the second when she broke me to go up 4-2. I am proud that I kind of stayed there and fought for it.”
Having never taken a set off Pliskova in two career meetings, Krejcikova quickly took care of that little bit of business with the French Open champion steamrolling through the opener in just 26 minutes.
Pliskova committed 12 unforced errors in the opening set but the former world number one steadied herself in the second. She still found herself in a hole when Krejcikova grabbed an early break on her way to a 4-2 lead.
With her opponent on the ropes, Krejcikova could not deliver the knockout blow as Pliskova dug deep sweeping the next four games to level the contest.
Pliskova’s powerful serves and pinpoint forehands helped her fend off break points at 2-2 and 4-4 before she completed her comeback in a closely contested decider.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, Editing by Christian Radnedge, Robert Birsel)