WTA Wuhan: Ashleigh Barty and Aryna Sabalenka advance. Simona Halep retires

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WTA Wuhan: Ashleigh Barty and Aryna Sabalenka advance. Simona Halep retires

World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty is through to the eighth quarter-final of the season, beating Sofia Kenin 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 26 minutes. It was the fourth victory for the Aussie over an in-form American who defeated Barty in Toronto, staying in contention for the WTA throne after Wuhan and sending pressure back to Karolina Pliskova.

Ashleigh suffered three breaks from five chances offered to Sofia and had to work hard in set number two, trailing 5-3 and facing two set points that could have kept Sofia in the match despite not playing at her best after three challenging weeks in China.

The American served at 42% and that plagued her game as well, losing serve five times and ending her run in the third round for some well-deserved rest. Barty grabbed two breaks in the middle of the opener for a 6-3 before Kenin opened a 5-3 advantage in the second with a break at love in game eight after a forehand error from Barty, serving for the set in the next game.

Ashleigh saved those two set points on the return in game nine, breaking back with a forehand down the line winner and leveling the score at 5-5 with a service winner. With the momentum on her side, Barty broke at 15 in game 11 following a double fault from Kenin and moved over the top with an ace in game 12 that propelled her into the last eight.

Petra Martic needed only 58 minutes to dismiss a qualifier Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-1, dropping 11 points in eight service games and fending off all three break chances to mount the pressure on the other side of the net.

The Croat had the upper hand on the return as well, stealing half of the points behind Kudermetova's serve and earning four breaks from six opportunities that carried her over the top in no time at all. Petra grabbed a break in the fourth game of the first set and three more in the second to seal the deal and stay on the title course, happy with the way she performed and hoping for more of the same against Barty on Thursday.

Elena Rybakina is also through into the quarters, leading 5-4 against Simona Halep when the Romanian had to retire with a back injury. Halep led 4-2 before the young Kazakh took three straight games, moving in front after fending off two break points in the ninth game with winners, crossing the finish line when Simona decided to retire after playing four points in the tenth game, struggling more and more and trying to avoid more serious problems.

The defending champion Aryna Sabalenka toppled Kiki Bertens 6-1, 7-6 to extend winning run in Wuhan and reach the second quarter-final of the Asian swing. The Belarusian suffered two breaks in the second set when she already built a massive lead, dominating in the opener and squandering a 5-1 advantage in set number two, including a match point in game eight.

Bertens bounced back to win five straight games that sent her 6-5 in front, wasting a set point at 9-8 in the tie break and allowing Aryna to convert the fifth match point in the 20th point for an 11-9 and the place in the next round.