Birmingham semifinals set: Barty vs. Strycova, Goerges vs. Martic

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The Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham is down to the last four as Ashleigh Barty, Barbora Strycova, Julia Goerges and Petra Martic won their quarterfinal matches on Friday.

The first to advance to the semis was Czech Barbora Strycova, with a 6-2 6-4 victory over compatriot Kristyna Pliskova. The world No.51 Strycova has had stellar results at this grasscourt tournament, having played the final in 2014 and 2016 and semifinals last season.

Strycova’s next obstacle will be in-form Ashleigh Barty, who is now just two match wins away from reaching the WTA No.1 ranking. In Friday’s quarterfinals, the second-seeded Barty won five games in a row to close out the first set against neon-yellow-clad Venus Williams, having a -2 winners-to-unforced-errors differential, compared to her opponent’s -14, and then marched through the second set by breaking the five-time Wimbledon champion twice for a 6-4 6-3 victory.

After a run to the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, Petra Martic is transferring her best tennis to grass. Playing former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the Croat lost the first set in a tiebreak and was 2-5 down in the second set, but saved five match points and won 11 of the last 12 games to triumph 6-7(4) 7-5 6-1 and comment “I still can’t believe that I won this match.”

In the semifinals, Martic will play 2018 Wimbledon semifinalist Julia Goerges, seeded eighth, who beat No.1 Naomi Osaka’s conqueror Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-2. Coming to this week’s Nature Valley Classic, Goerges had not won back-to-back matches since Doha in February.

Barty has won two of her three meetings with Strycova, including their round of 16 encounter in Birmingham two years ago. Goerges and Martic have faced each other just once so far, way back in 2008, and the German won that match.

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