After reaching the quarter-final at the US Open, Donna Vekic has secured a career-best season regardless of the next results that were not that good for the young Croat. Losing early in Osaka, Wuhan, Beijing and Linz, Donna bowed out in the second round in Moscow as well, suffering a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to Karolina Muchova in an hour and 13 minutes.
Muchova fired 21 winners, getting broken three times but erasing that deficit with a brilliant performance on the return, punishing the second serve of her opponent to earn six breaks from eight chances and bring the encounter home in no time at all.
Donna led 2-0 and 4-3 in the opener before dropping the last three games to hand the set to the Czech who grabbed three straight breaks in set number two to seal the deal and reach the last eight. The 3rd seed Belinda Bencic had to take a late wild card after an early exit in Linz, chasing the crucial points in the battle for the last remaining spot at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen with Kiki Bertens.
The Swiss is through to the quarter-final thanks to a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Polona Hercog in just under two hours. Belinda prevailed in their previous match in Rome 2014 and had to work hard today as well, winning one point less than the Slovenian thanks to that one-sided first set but earning more chances overall to deserve the win and stay on the title course.
Polona erased three break chances in the first game and raced towards the end with a double break, staying in touch until 3-3 in the second set before Bencic earned a break that kept her alive ahead of the decider where she trailed 3-0.
Facing elimination, the resolute Swiss claimed five straight games to forge the lead, sealing the deal with a hold at 5-4 and steal dreaming about qualifying for Shenzhen. The 8th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova toppled the fellow Russian Anna Kalinskaya 6-1, 6-1 in just 55 minutes, firing 11 aces and fending off three out of four break chances to mount the pressure on the 20-year-old.
Kalinskaya lost 66% points behind the initial shot, facing 12 break points and giving serve away six times to trail all the time. Ekaterina won 23 of the first 27 points to settle into a great rhythm and claimed four breaks in set number two to march over the finish line and continue where she left in Linz.
A qualifier Kirsten Flipkens sent the 5th seed Dayana Yastremska out, beating the youngster 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 with a double break in the deciding set.