WTA Wuhan: don't stop Aryna Sabalenka now

The Belarusian will meet Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals. Qiang Wang continued her run: she's projected to rise to No.28

by Alessandro Mastroluca
SHARE
WTA Wuhan: don't stop Aryna Sabalenka now

No.16 seed Ashleigh Barty returned to the final four at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She will face Aryna Sabalenka who beat 7-5 6-3 Dominika Cibulkova in her eighth tour-level final quarter-final of 2018.

Qiang Wang continued to make history as she dominated Monica Puig 6-3 6-1 to seal the 20th victory since the grasscourt season. She will face Anette Kontaveit, after her 6-4 6-4 victory over Katerina Siniakova. Barty, the lone seeded player among the eight quarterfinalists, had beaten Pavlyuchenkova just once in four previous meetings, in China on hard court, at 2017 Zhuhai.

The Australian, who leads the way on tour this year for second serve points won with 51.7%, will also pass the USD$2m mark for 2018 prize money. Despite winning almost 10 points more than her opponent, Barty wsd forced to the decider after being two points from victory in the second set.

The Aussie No.1 hit 20 winners to Pavlyuchenkova's 30 but she crucially hit 21 unforced errors to the Russian's 44. Her consistency became the main factor to produce her tenth 3-set win in 13 matches this season. Her efficient game, however, is far from predictable.

"That's where I find my fun in tennis, is when I go out there, play freely, be creative. I think every single person and every player has a unique game. Yes, there are some similarities. Everybody is unique, has different preferences, things like that," Barty said, WTAtennis.com reported.

"For me, I play my best when I'm out there having fun and trying to be as creative as possible." Aryna Sabalenka, who has reached the quarter-finals or better at three of her past four tournaments produced impressive numbers on serve, ranking first for aces, service games won (83.3%) and first-serve points won (74.4%) among the quarter-finals.

Since losing to No.258 Sanchez in qualifying at San Jose in July, Sabalenka has posted an 18-4 win-loss record and reached 39 WTA main draw wins to her name in 2018. Prior to 2018, she owned just 12 victories at tour level.

In her maiden meeting against Cibulkova, Sabalenka extended to 4-1 her record against Slovak players, most recently going 1-1 during Belarus’s 3-2 Fed Cup World Group play-off win over Slovakia in Minsk this April (d.

Schmiedlova, l. Kuzmova). "I try not to worry too much. See the ball, hit the ball. This is the key!" she said on court. Sabalenka controlled the game as her 23 winners to 23 unforced errors testified. Cibulkova, by contrast, won less than half of her first serve points and managed to grab 10 winners to 16 unforced errors.

She already faced Barty at the Australian Open. “It was such a good match. I've really been waiting for our next one. She's a great player. I would like to say that she's tricky player because she's playing slice, lobs, with spin.

It won't be an easy match; of course, in the semifinal, who gets easy here?" she remarked, as the WTA website reported. The Belarusian, said Barty, "had a phenomenal season. It was bound to happen, to be honest. She's an absolute quality player.

I think Aryna is so comfortable at the moment". Chinese No.1 Wang Qiang extended her winning streak on home soil. “A big thank you to all the fans, especially after the Mid-Autumn festival (a holiday in China),” she had said earlier this week.

“They're working during the day, but they're coming here for the matches. Even when I'm low, they are always supporting me. I think this is why I'm here, this is what is motivating me in my career.” The 26-year-old dynamo from Tianjin, just a 30-minute bullet train ride from Beijing, won 12 of her last 13 matches.

In the hometown of Chinese tennis legend Li Na, Wang said she hoped to emulate the Chinese legend. "She's a role model for many athletes, especially Chinese players. If I can play as well as she did, I will have a very perfect life." Wang used to train as youngsters with world No.

46 Shuai Zhang whose friendship is expected to be put under scrutiny as Wang, projected to climb for the first time into the Top 30 at No.28, will assume the title of Chinese No. 1. Wang is expected to use her speed and agility to counter Kontaveit's power from the baseline in their first career meeting.

The Estonian, playing her first quarter-final on hardcourt of the season, began her run scoring her sixth victory over a Top 10 player this season (6-5 record) after defeating No.9 Stephens, and notched back-to-back wins for the first time since the round 16 showing at Cincinnati with her second round victory over Vekic.

Kontaveit defeated home favorite Zhang on Wednesday to reach her third quarter-final of the season and today she celebrated the third semifinal in 2018 after Stuttgart (l. eventual champion Karolina Pliskova) and Rome (l. eventual champion Svitolina).

↓ SHOW RESULTS ↓

Aryna Sabalenka Ashleigh Barty Qiang Wang
SHARE