WUHAN, China - Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko won the last six games of a thrilling Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open quarterfinal over top seed Garbiñe Muguruza, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, scoring her first win over a reigning WTA World No.1 and extending her winning streak to eight in a row.
"I've played a lot of matches in the last couple of days since Seoul," she said in her post-match press conference. "But I think it's even better to play matches because you get used them, and you're more confident.
"I will try to recover as fast as I can today and hopefully I can play good tomorrow."
The Latvian narrowly lost to Muguruza earlier this year at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, but used her stellar 2017 three-set record (now 19-7) to lethal effect in the deciding set, burying the reigning Wimbledon winner beneath a barrage of winners - 29 by match's end.
"In the first set I think I really wasn't going for my shots. Then in the second and third set I started to go for my shots, change the directions more. I think it helped me pretty well."
Ostapenko showed great heart to win her first hardcourt title last week at the KEB Hana Bank-Incheon Airport Korea Open in Seoul, and needed three sets to outlast Barbora Strycova and Monica Puig en route to her first Premier 5 quarterfinal of the year. Outmatched in the opening set, she shook off losing a 3-1 lead in the second set to level the match behind two more breaks of serve.
"Sometimes it's actually even better when you don't have that much time to prepare. Sometimes you come so many days before, you get prepared really well for the tournament, you go out and lose first round.
"When you come from another tournament, especially I won the tournament, I'm more confident. I just came from there. First match I was, 'Okay, how I'm going to do? Just my best. What happens, that happens.' Then I won, and now I'm in the semifinal."
Muguruza emerged confidently to start the final set following a medical timeout for nagging left thigh injury, but Ostapenko proved too strong, striking winners at will to clinch the match in one hour and 57 minutes.
"I think she played very aggressively," Muguruza said. "She had a lot of good shots, especially in the right moments I think she picked the good ones and went for it.
"I think I was trying to play my game, obviously. It was a pretty close match at the end. It was three sets and it was tight. I think she's just playing very good with a lot of confidence."
Standing between Ostapenko and a second straight final is surging Aussie Ashleigh Barty, who survived a titanic thriller of her own against former WTA World No.1 Karolina Pliskova, edging past the Czech powerhouse, 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).
"I played against her this year in Rome," Ostapenko said. "I think she's a great player. Still young. Yeah, hopefully if I can show my best tomorrow, we'll have a good match."