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Sevastova vs Jabeur WTA Moscow Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Sevastova battles surprise semi-finalist, Jabeur for final spot

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 19 Oct 2018
  • Anastasija Sevastova vs Ons Jabeur is live from Moscow on Friday, 19 October from 3:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
  • Sevastova won their only previous meeting in Charleston last year
Anastasija Sevastova. (Photo by Di Yin/Getty Images)

Anastasija Sevastova seeks her fourth final of the season when she takes on Tunisian qualifier, Ons Jabeur at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Friday.

Currently ranked 11th in the world, Sevastova has compiled another excellent season, backing up her efforts from the previous campaign, when she ended a year inside the top-20 for the first time in her career. The 28-year-old Latvian, who briefly retired from the sport between 2013 and the start of 2015, is well in the hunt to secure a year-end top ten finish in 2018.

Sevastova has picked up just one title so far this season, in Bucharest, but she has made finals in Mallorca and Beijing, and three other semi-finals in Brisbane, Charleston and the US Open. Her current form has been particularly very good- since the start of the US Open, Sevastova has gone on a 13-3 run, reaching the last four at Flushing Meadows, bagging that runner-up finish in Beijing, and now advancing to her seventh semi-final of the year in Moscow. Those three defeats have been against Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Within this current spell, she has beaten Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens (both at the US Open), Naomi Osaka and Madison Keys (in Beijing) in a very impressive scorecard.

Her Moscow run has not been the smoothest as she has been taken to three sets in each of the first three rounds. Sevastova beat Magdalena Rybarikova 4-6 7-5 6-3 in her opening match, before outlasting Yulia Putintseva, 7-5 4-6 6-4 in the second round. She was taken the distance yet again by home favourite, and former world number two, Vera Zvonareva in the quarter finals, but she battled back from a set down to eke out a 4-6 7-6 6-3 victory over the two-time Grand Slam finalist.

Sevastova had the first break of the match for 4-3, but Zvonareva responded with three straight games to take the opening set. The Latvian again broke first in the second set, this time, in the opening game, but after fighting off a persistent Zvonareva for most of the set, she finally surrendered her serve while attempting to close it out at 5-4. The world number 11 recovered from that setback to win seven of the next eight points to take the second set, and force a decider.

Sevastova rode the momentum into the final set, winning the first eight points to take a 2-0 lead, but Zvonareva kept fighting back, breaking back for 3-3. However, the Russian eventually ran out of steam, dropping the final three games as Sevastova emerged with the win after two hours and 14 minutes.

She moves on to the semi-finals to take on Tunisian qualifier, Ons Jabeur.

It's been a terrific week for Jabeur, who has become the first Tunisian to reach a WTA semi-final with her exploits in Moscow. 

Ons Jabeur. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA)
Jabeur had fallen as low as No. 180 in the world after a forgettable first half of the year, during which she did not win a single tour-level main draw match, but things have been looking up for the Tunisian since the grass-court season. She won the 100K tournament in Manchester and backed it up with a quarter final in Ilkley before recording her first tour-level win of the season at Wimbledon, beating Viktorija Golubic in three sets. She fell to Katerina Siniakova, 9-7 in the deciding set, in the second round.

Jabeur has not undergone a tremendous transformation in form since the grass-court season, but she has at least recorded a handful of wins, which wasn't the case on the opening half of the year, reaching the quarter finals in Bucharest, and the second round in Quebec City and Beijing. She had risen to 101 in the world on the eve of the Kremlin Cup, and regardless of whatever else happens in Moscow, she will break back into the world's top 100 next Monday.

A terrific week began with Jabeur coming through three rounds of qualifying; she then switched through multiple gears to dismiss Ekaterina Makarova, Sloane Stephens and Anett Kontaveit, all in straight sets to reach her first semi-final of the season.

Jabeur sent down nine aces against Kontaveit, and generally played very well on the big points, saving five of six break points, and converting four of the six opportunities that came her way. Kontaveit actually had the first break of the match in the fifth game, but Jabeur struck back immediately, and went on to complete a fine 7-5 6-1 win, outclassing her opponent with her impressive combination of power and touch.

The Tunisian will take on Sevastova for the second time on Friday, with a spot in the Moscow final on the line. Their only previous meeting was in Charleston in 2017, when Sevastova battled back from 5-2 down in the first set, and 4-2 down in the second to complete a 7-5 7-6 victory, and Jabeur remembers very well.

"I think we have a similar game - she likes to slice, dropshot, change the rhythm," she mused. "Hopefully I can take my revenge because I was supposed to win that match, I was leading 5-2!"

It should be another entertaining contest between two clever shotmakers. Jabeur has been in the better form this week, coasting through a really difficult draw, while Sevastova has had to work a lot harder to get into the last four. After losing to Sevastova in last year's Charleston meeting despite being in some very strong positions; Friday could be the day when Jabeur gets her revenge and moves into a first WTA final.

Anastasija Sevastova vs Ons Jabeur is live from Moscow on Friday, 19 October from 3:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

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Sevastova vs Jabeur WTA Moscow Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Sevastova battles surprise semi-finalist, Jabeur for final spot

Anastasija Sevastova takes on Tunisian qualifier, Ons Jabeur in the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup. Will the Latvian take down the tricky Jabeur? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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