Barty sets up Sabalenka showdown in Wuhan semis

Australian Ashleigh Barty takes a selfie with a fan after her victory over Angelique Kerber at the Wuhan Open on 26 September 2018

She will play China's Qiang Wang for a spot in the semifinals. Including qualifying rounds, the Puerto Rican has now won 14 of her last 17 matches.

Puig had come from a bagel set down to defeat the Australian Open champion 0-6 6-4 6-4 in the second round at the Miami Open in March and the 24-year-old repeated the dose with a forehand victor to set up a clash against home favourite Wang Qiang, who defeated Daria Gavrilova in straight sets, in an all-unseeded battle.

"From the beginning of the season, the goal has been top 20 for this year", she said.

Both players broke each other four times to force another tie-break, but the Czech player stormed to victory to reach her first quarter-final since May.

But the home favourite, appearing to hold back tears between points, played only three games in the second set before signalling to the umpire that she had to retire.

Qualifier Katerina Siniakova came back from 5-1 down in the first set to see off Muguruza 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-1) in the early hours of Thursday morning, leaving Barty as the solitary seed in the last eight.

In-form Barty is now ranked 17th in the world, and a strong finish in Wuhan - where the victor will get 900 points - could help her inch up the rankings before the end of the season.

Barty's reward for beating Pavlyuchenkova is a clash with Sabalenka, the Belarusian who continued her strong finish to 2018 by defeating Cibulkova in straight sets. "It was extremely close, could've gone either way, but happy to give myself another opportunity tomorrow". On Wednesday it was the turn of Puig to send more shock waves through the field of the Wuhan Open as she knocked-out the world number two, Wozniacki.

It would give the Australian No.1, who made the final in Wuhan previous year, a $697,000 winner's cheque and 900 ranking points, which would take her to a career-best ranking of No.15, leaping over Serena Williams on the list. She will next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who upset two-time champion Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

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