Ashleigh Barty made a blistering start and rode out a tighter second set to win the WTA Elite Trophy title with a convincing 6-3 6-4 victory over Wang Qiang in Zhuhai. The 22-year-old Australian beat defending champion and top seed Julia Goerges in the semi-finals and picked up where she left off in that match to win the $2,349,363 tournament.
Barty claimed her third WTA title after her triumphs on grass at the Nottingham Open earlier this year and at the 2017 Malaysian Open but by far her biggest. “It’s been a great finish in China this week,” she said.
“It’s been a phenomenal year and I’m looking forward to a bit of holiday and then getting ready for the Australian summer.” Wang Qiang’s results this week, anyway, will take her career earnings past $3 million, and half of this total has been amassed in 2018, her breakthrough season.
Less than six months ago, Wang was ranked No.91, but is projected to become the first Chinese player to end a season in the Top 20 since Li Na's final year in 2014. Also Barty is projected to end her excellent season at her highest year-end ranking at No.15.
Barty, making her second appearance at Zhuhai, bounced back to produce an impressive service display as she hit five aces and faced no break points to upset No.18 Garcia on Thursday, and scored her fifth Top 20 win of 2018 over No.14 Goerges in the semifinals.
She completed the season with 46 main draw wins this season, behind only Karolina Pliskova (49), Kvitova (47), and joining Halep, Kerber, Bertens, Mertens, Sabalenka and Goerges have registered more. The Australian extended to 13-1 her career record against Chinese opposition, with sole loss coming to Peng at 2014 Strasbourg.
Barty, who reached the semi-finals of the Wuhan Open in her last singles tournament, romped to a 4-0 lead over Wang in the first set at the Hengqin Tennis Centre. Wang, who has risen to No.22, staged a minor comeback to get back on serve at 4-3 but a delightful drop shot handed Barty her third break.
She managed to serve out the set and confirmed to be almost unbeatable when she has won the first set this year. While her service was clicking, Barty’s all-court game did the rest and after being forced to save a break point for 2-2, she broke Wang again to go 4-3 up. And victory never looked in doubt until she sealed the victory with a perfectly executed backhand crosscourt volley.