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Garbine Muguruza vs Caroline Wozniacki WTA Tokyo Live Stream: World No. 1 battles defending champion in blockbuster Tokyo semi-final

Brendan O'Neill in Tennis 22 Sep 2017
Photo by karlnorling

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki takes on top seed Garbine Muguruza in a mouth-watering Tokyo semi-final on Saturday. Who will make the Toray Pan Pacific Open final? 

Garbine Muguruza vs Caroline Wozniacki is live from Tokyo on Saturday, 23 September from 1:30pm local time/ 5:30pm BSTWatch and bet on tennis live at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Wozniacki has a remarkable record in Tokyo- she has now made at least the semi-finals in each of the last five years, and is seeking a third title at the event following her successes in 2010 and 2016. Muguruza does not quite have such stellar numbers in the Japanese capital- she returns to the last four for the first time since 2014 after suffering consecutive quarter final defeats in 2015 and 2016.

The Spaniard’s record in Tokyo may be far from eye-catching, but that can certainly not be said about her recent form. Since the start of Wimbledon, Muguruza has established a 21-3 run, and has been rewarded with a rise to the top of the world rankings. The 23-year-old of course went on to win Wimbledon, dropping just one set as she powered her way through the draw, and crucially, there have been no hangovers. She followed up her triumph at the All England Club with a semi-final in Stanford, and then a quarter final in Toronto, before producing another title-winning run in Cincinnati. A fourth round loss at the US Open looks very disappointing on paper, but she was the victim of a rather cruel draw, as she bumped into an inspired Petra Kvitova at Flushing Meadows. That was however good enough to take her to the top of the world for the first time in her career.

Even before Wimbledon, Muguruza had had a decent season, but she struggled to generate any real momentum, majorly because of niggling injuries that caused her to retire four times in her opening nine tournaments. However, having found an extended stretch of good health, she has found the form to go with it, and has barged through the field to the top of the sport.

Some players have famously crumbled under the weight of that ranking, but early evidence suggests that Muguruza will not fall into that category. 

"To achieve this dream I've had since I was a child gives me a lot of confidence first," she said. "A boost of motivation to hold this position - because I think it's the best."

In her first tournament since assuming top spot, Muguruza has played with the same assurance and confidence that took her took her to that position, dismissing Monica Puig 6-4 6-0 in her opening round before taking out Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-4 in the quarter finals.

Garcia threatened to make Friday’s quarter final more complicated when she converted her first and only break point of the match to level up at 3-3 in the second set, thanks to a Muguruza double fault, but the Spaniard wrestled back her advantage by breaking again in the lengthy seventh game, a lead she was to hold for the rest of the contest.

"I felt my game was there, my intensity, and I'm happy that in important moments I played well," Muguruza said after the victory.

She will face her toughest test yet in her fledgling reign as the No. 1 player in the world when she confronts last year’s winner, Wozniacki on Saturday.

While she has somehow failed to win a title so far this season, Wozniacki has been a beacon of consistency in 2017, and has now made seven semi-finals this year. She is also the only woman to have crossed 50 match wins this year. The 27-year-old Dane goes into Saturday’s match against Muguruza seeking her seventh final of the season, adding to efforts in Doha, Dubai, Miami, Eastbourne, Bastad and Toronto. 

Wozniacki has carved a reputation over the years for being one of the most tenacious players on the tour, and she has had to rely on that quality to fight her way through two difficult matches in Tokyo. Having got a bye into the second round, the Dane trailed by a set, and then by a break in the final set against the powerful Shelby Rogers in her opening match, but the former world number one battled back to win six of the final seven games to book her spot in a thirteenth quarter final of the season via a 4-6 6-1 6-4 win.

It was an even greater battle against Dominika Cibulkova in the last eight. Wozniacki dropped the opening set against the Slovak, and had to save two match points as Cibulkova served for the match at 6-5 in the second set. The world number six broke back, and then edged a tight tie break to force a decider. She earned reward for her perseverance, perhaps not in the way she would have liked, when Cibulkova retired with a thigh injury while trailing 3-1 in the final set.

“I thought we both played really well - it was definitely exciting tennis,” Wozniacki said after the match. “She had match points in that second set, somehow I managed to pull it out and turn the match around... I just kept going for it and going for the lines. She was playing really well so after that point [the match points] I just had to go all out.”

She will have to be at her battling best on Saturday, as she faces an in-form world number one, Muguruza. Muguruza has won three of their five previous meetings, with the pair split 2-2 on hard courts. Wozniacki won their most recent encounter, in Miami earlier this season albeit via a Muguruza retirement.

Muguruza will do most of the pressing, and she has had her way more often than not in recent times. Another aspect of her game that has greatly blossomed is her movement and athleticism, and that, combined with the power coming off her racket stands her in excellent stead to claim the win on Saturday. Wozniacki will make it extremely difficult, but Muguruza has struck a wonderful balance between aggression and patience in the last few months, and I expect her to edge a hard-fought battle and move into her third final of the season on Saturday.

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