WTA ZHUHAI - Barty, Vandeweghe and Sevastova through to the semifinals

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WTA ZHUHAI - Barty, Vandeweghe and Sevastova through to the semifinals

CoCo Vandeweghe, Ashleigh Barty and Anastasija Sevastova clinched their place in the semifinals of the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai. The American defeated Elena Vesnina, who was struggling was struggling with a lower back injury throughout the match as in their previous meeting at Sydney earlier this year, 6-3, 6-2.

Entering Zhuhai with a single match win in her past four tournaments in China, a first round triumph over Vekic at 2017 Beijing, Vandeweghe had recovered from a set down to defeat Chinese No.1 Peng in first round robin match and consequently reached the fourth semifinal of 2017.

In her final match in round-robin match in the Bougainvillea Group, the second seed Vandeweghe delivered 30 winners, including 11 aces, and continue her bid to end the year in the Top 10. Vesnina started to struggle intensely serving at 3-2 in the second set.

She quickly dropped her serve at love and missed a backhand on her opponent's first match point. Angelique Kerber will fall out of the Top 20 for the first time in five years. The German failed for the first time, after five consecutive seasons, to reach 30 wins this season.

Instead, Barty clinched that feat after a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 victory to move to the semifinals in the Rose Group. The Australian drilled a staggering 35 winners to just 12 unforced errors in a dominant one hour, 11-minute victory, as Kerber posted solid numbers behind 31 winners to 22 unforced.

"It was a tough group for me because I hadn't actually beaten either of those girls," Barty said afterwards. "It's nice to sort of get that revenge this week, but I felt like I served great all week and put myself in a good position in my service games to then be super-aggressive and nice and clear when returning so I can have a little bit more of a crack and see if I can get some of those early breaks in the sets.

I felt like I served great today and put myself in the right position right from the get-go." Barty recorded her ninth Top 20 win of the season as the German failed to capitalize on her break back in the beginning of the second set.

Barty came through what became a seven-deuce affair - the longest game of the match - to draw level, and broke in the next game to take a lead she never relinquished. Finally, Anastasija Sevastova sealed her place in the semifinals at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova, topping the Camellia Group with a 2-0 record.

Playing on her career-high at No.15, Sevastova had opened her Camellia Group campaign with her first career win over Stephens to register her first win since the US Open. That was her maiden victory on Chinese soil since the remarkable run through qualifying to the quarterfinals at 2010 Beijing.

Since then had suffered seven straight first round exits, most recently last month at Wuhan (l. Makarova) and Beijing (l. Sharapova). After her first win over Strycova, after two defeats, Sevastova now owns a 6‐6 win-loss record against Top 20 players in 2017, with other wins all coming on clay against No.18 Stosur and No.7 Konta (both Stuttgart), No.3 Ka.Pliskova and No.19 Bertens (both at Madrid).

Sevastova came from 2-0 down in the opening set, winning 20 of the next 24 points and five straight games en route to taking a one-set lead, and later used a decisive late break in the seventh game of the second set to earn victory.

The Latvian won her 33d match this seasn out of 34 after sealing the opening set and advanced to the fourth semifinal of 2017 after Dubai, Madrid and Mallorca. .