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Birthday joy as Goerges reaches Zhuhai semis

Defending champion Julia Goerges gave herself an early birthday present yesterday by beating Elise Mertens to book her semi-final berth in the WTA Elite Trophy.

The fifth seed bounced back from a bruising defeat by Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday, but overcame Mertens 6-2, 7-6 in a tense round-robin tie in Zhuhai, southern China.

Goerges, who turns 30 today, was pushed all the way in the second set by her 22-year-old Belgian opponent, but the German clinched the nailbiting tiebreak 7-5 at the Hengqin International Tennis Centre.

"Well, actually I don't feel like 30 yet," Goerges said at her post-match press conference.

"With my performance today, I gave myself the best present I could ask for for tomorrow."

The straight-set victory was enough to take Goerges to the top of the group, and the world No. 14 jumped with joy on court and punched the air in celebration.

Asked if she knew she had to win 2-0 qualify, she said: "I knew what I had to do today - to win in straight sets - and I think it was up to me to dictate the game.

"It's never easy when you know you have to play extremely well to beat someone in straight sets, especially here, where there are only the best players in the world.

"I'm obviously very very happy that I made it in the end." .

Earlier, Australia's Ashleigh Barty beat an out-of-sorts French No. 1 Caroline Garcia to keep her semi-final hopes alive.

Ninth seed Barty broke Garcia once in each set to win the round-robin tie 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 16 minutes.

Barty, who lost to Aryna Sabalenka on Tuesday, has to wait for the outcome of Garcia and Sabalenka's match to see if she will progress to the semi-finals tomorrow.

Said Barty: "I just have to sit back and watch tomorrow. But I'm certainly pleased to have had the year we've had and really nice to finish on a positive note today." - AFP

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