WUHAN, China: Australia’s Ashleigh Barty pulled off a major upset against former world number one Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals of the Wuhan Open on Thursday, downing the number three seed 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/2).
Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia edged out Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 to also make it to the last four.
Barty, ranked 37th in the world, failed to convert three match points in the third set but dominated the deciding tie-break to bag her first ever win against a top-five player.
The 21-year-old Barty had already seen off Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded nine, and Johanna Konta, the fifth seed in a dream run in the humid Chinese city. “I played a really good match and I’m just happy to come through at the end,” she said.
“It was really important for me to look after my service games and obviously try and make inroads into Karolina’s games and I was able to do that.”
After Pliskova’s exit, there are now just three seeds remaining in the competition.
The Czech, who is the world number four but who spent eight weeks at number one this year, had looked strong in the earlier rounds as she breezed past China’s Zhang Shuai and Wang Qiang.
Barty will face either world number one Garbine Muguruza or Jelena Ostapenko, seeded eight, in the semifinals.
Muguruza in quarters
On Wednesday, world number one Garbine Muguruza powered her way into the quarterfinals, defeating Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to set up a mouth-watering clash with Jelena Ostapenko.
The Spaniard dominated the first set, but performed meekly in the second at a hot and humid tournament that has seen all but three seeds crash out.
The 23-year-old number one seed suffered with a poor forehand in the third set but broke her opponent at 4-5 to clinch the third-round tie.
“Today I had a very tough match and had to go out there and fight a lot. The second set didn’t go my way at all,” she told a post-match press conference.
But she said she was “looking forward” to her quarterfinal clash with Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open winner, after the Latvian overpowered Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Ostapenko has now won 20 of her last 23 three-set matches, according to the WTA.
“I like to play these matches where the player is playing the best (that they can),” Muguruza added. “It’s going to be a good quarterfinal.”
Maria Sakkari of Greece, Russian Ekaterina Makarova, Caroline Garcia of France and her compatriot Alize Cornet are also through to the last eight. — AFP
Wuhan Open results
On Thursday (quarterfinals)
Ashleigh Barty (AUS) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x3) 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/2); Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
On Wednesday (third round)
Garbine Muguruza (ESP x1) bt Magda Linette (POL) 6-2, 1-6, 6-4; Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x7) 6-3, 7-5