Fri, Nov 03, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Barty defeats Kerber in straight sets in Zhuhai

AFP, ZHUHAI, China

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty yesterday stunned former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber in straight sets to reach the WTA Elite Trophy semi-finals.

Barty, 21, the youngest player at the season-ending tournament in Zhuhai, needed just 1 hour, 11 minutes to down her German opponent 6-3, 6-4 at the Hengqin International Tennis Center.

It follows an impressive victory over fourth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia on Wednesday, also in straight sets.

“I felt like I served great today,” Barty told media after yesterday’s match.

“I ... put myself in a good position in my service games to then be super aggressive and nice and clear when returning so I can, you know, have a little bit more of a crack and then see if I can get some of those early breaks in the sets,” she added.

The pair’s sole previous meeting was in Brisbane, Australia, in January, when Kerber, then world No. 1 and the reigning Australian and US Open champion, survived a big scare from the Australian wild-card entry.

The 2011 junior Wimbledon champion has enjoyed a resurgence since returning to tennis last year after a spell with the Brisbane Heat cricket team.

She began the year ranked outside the top 300, but has since soared to world No. 20 and recently became Australia’s No. 1.

She reached her first WTA Tour Premier 5 tournament final in Wuhan in September after crushing French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, but ultimately fell to Caroline Garcia.

Later yesterday, Latvian fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova overpowered Czechoslovakia’s Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-4, also giving her a semi-final berth.

Sevastova, on a career-high ranking of world No. 15, hammered US Open champ Sloane Stephens on Wednesday. It was the American’s third successive defeat since winning the US Open.

Second-seeded Coco Vandeweghe of the US triumphed over Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-2 in the final singles match of the day.

The results mean Vandeweghe and Sevastova have also booked their spots in the semis of the round-robin tournament.

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