Sabalenka upsets Goerges in semifinals of Connecticut Open

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Carla Suarez Navarro will play for the Connecticut Open championship, despite completing just one full match this week and playing less than four sets.

The 29-year-old Spaniard advanced Friday when Monica Puig of Puerto Rico retired during their first set of their semifinal with an abdominal injury.

Suarez Navarro will face Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who upset fifth-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the first semifinal.

“I feel like I didn’t play and I’m in the final,” Suarez Navarro said. “But, well, I cannot do nothing.”

Suarez Navarro won her first match against Barbora Strycova in straight sets. Her second-round opponent, Johanna Konta, withdrew with an illness. She was leading 6-3 in the quarterfinals Thursday when third-seeded Petra Kvitova bowed out with a shoulder injury.

Puig was leading 4-3 after exchanging service breaks with Suarez Navarro when she left the court holding her abdomen. The reigning Olympic champion returned five minutes later, lost the next game, then approached the net in tears and announced she could not continue.

“It was a bit of an abdominal strain that I started feeling in my second service game, she said. “I just gradually got worse from there. Obviously with the US Open so close, it’s better not to make it worse, miss a tournament. I mean, I already know the consequences of getting injured and missing a Grand Slam. That’s not ideal.”

The 24-year-old said she is hopeful of playing in New York against Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland on Tuesday.

Sabalenka will be looking for her first WTA tournament win Saturday in her second final of the summer.

Now ranked 25th in the world, the 20-year-old said she expects to be a bit calmer than she was before her matchup with Caroline Wozniacki on the grass at Eastbourne in June.

“I will tell to myself like, ‘OK, this is the next one, the second one, try to enjoy it,'” she said. “Just enjoy. Don’t be too much pressure on yourself. Just enjoy; It’s enough.

An aggressive Sabalenka came out loose against Goerges, taking first set by breaking the German at love in the 10th game.

Goerges, who was the lone remaining seed in the tournament, broke to open the second set and won her first nine service points in taking a 4-2 lead. But Sabalenka broke back to make it 4-4 and the two players traded breaks at the end to send the set to a tiebreaker.

Goerges won the first three points, before Sabalenka came storming back to win the final seven.

Sabalenka, who also made the semifinals in Cincinnati last week, is 10-2 on North American hard courts this season and improved to 5-5 against top-10 opponents.

“It doesn’t matter the ranking of players,” Sabalenka said. “Everyone can play. This is so. But you just have to be focused on your game, to bring all what you have on the court.”

Puig’s injury was the latest in a string of problems for the tournament that began when top-seeded Simona Halep withdrew with a right Achilles injury just before the start of the tournament. Illness forced out sixth-seeded Ashleigh Barty and seventh-seeded Kiki Bertens.

All of them are expected to play next week in the U.S. Open.