LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg -- Defending champion and No.2 seed Julia Goerges of Germany notched a third straight comeback win from a one-set deficit this week, as she overcame 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, to reach the semifinals at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.
"I think I like three sets here!" Goerges expressed after the match. "That was a pretty slow start for me today, and [Puig] hit the ball pretty big, so I’m very happy that I could mix up things in the second and third sets. I did a good job of fighting back and I actually started playing really well."
2017 Luxembourg runner-up Puig held a 4-2 head-to-head lead coming into the clash, but World No.26 Goerges has now won their last three meetings after her one-hour and 49-minute victory.
The German shook off a dominant opening set by World No.84 Puig to power her way to the win, firing 24 winners in the match, which doubled her unforced error count. Goerges won 83 percent of her first service points in the final two sets, and during that timeframe, she never faced a break point.
"I know [the serve] is one of my biggest weapons, and I try to use it as smart as I can," said Goerges. "I think in the first set, I played a little bit too much into her racquet, and she’s a big ball-striker. So I tried to mix up things, and I think in the end it paid off."
Puig started the match on fire, claiming the first break with a stunning crosscourt backhand return winner to go up 2-0. The Puerto Rican cruised to 3-0 without having dropped a point on her serve, and although her next service game was more complicated, she continued to hold on for 4-1.
The blistering returning from Puig persisted as the set wore on, as she crushed another huge backhand return to break Goerges again and earn a 5-1 lead. Serving for a one-set lead, Puig converted her first set point after Goerges fired a return out of bounds.
However, as has been her custom all week, Goerges made a point to turn the match around in the second set. At 1-0, the German received gifts from Puig, after the Puerto Rican double faulted twice in a row to hand Goerges triple break point. Goerges made sure to take her chance when she could, and claimed the game after a winning lob to lead 2-0.
The typically fearsome Goerges serve at last clicked into gear, as she notched two love service holds to zip to 4-1. Goerges then earned a tough hold for 5-2, closing out the close game with an ace. In the next game, Puig double faulted to hand Goerges triple set point, and though the Puerto Rican saved two, she double faulted once more on the third, and the match was all square.
— WTA (@WTA) October 18, 2019
Goerges kept her momentum going in the decider, earning the first break of the third set to go up 3-1, then consolidating for 4-1, putting her within touching distance of another come-from-behind win. Puig, however, continued to battle, staving off three break points in the next game before holding for 4-2 with a service winner.
Puig then fended off three match points on her serve before holding for 5-3, putting the pressure squarely on Goerges to serve out the match. The German, though, was up to the task, hitting three unreturned serves in a row to set up triple match point. On her first opportunity, Puig sent a service return long, and Goerges had locked up another terrific comeback this week.
Goerges will now face No.3 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the final four. Rybakina advanced to the semifinals earlier on Friday with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Laura Siegemund of Germany.
"It’s another big hitter," Goerges stated. "It’s kind of a similar game, [Rybakina] has a big serve, big groundstrokes. I’m looking forward to it. Another challenge in my last event of the year, so I’ll just give everything I have."