Thu, Jan 10, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Hsieh’s hopes squashed by Kvitova

RISING STAR:Australian Ashleigh Barty brought her momentum from winning the Zhuhai Open into the new year, defeating world No. 1 Simona Halep in straight sets

AFP, SYDNEY

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei fell just short of the Sydney International quarter-finals after a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 defeat to fifth seed Petra Kvitova yesterday, while world No. 1 Simona Halep and fourth seed Sloane Stephens are to head to Melbourne Park earlier than expected.

Halep had not played since withdrawing from the WTA Finals in October last year with a herniated disc and was no match for fast-rising Australian Ashleigh Barty, who scored the biggest win of her career 6-4, 6-4.

Last year’s Australian Open runner-up had a bye through to the second round, meaning she heads to the Australian Open with just one game under her belt.

“It was a great match after almost four months [since the last one]. I think I played a good level of tennis, but I had no inspiration in some important points,” Halep said.

“No pain at all, that is a great sign,” she added of her back.

Barty, who ended last year with a WTA title in Zhuhai, China, brought the momentum into the new year and is now to meet Belgian 10th seed Elise Mertens in the quarter-finals.

Halep was first to break in the second set and had a chance to hold for 5-3, but Barty was undaunted, using her signature court craft to break straight back and secure victory two games later.

“It was extremely difficult conditions, very swirly down at court level. So I figured if I’m going to play Sim anytime, and it’s her first match, it was now. I was very happy to make the most if it,” Barty said.

Earlier in the week, Halep said that the back injury that ended last season early was “very scary.”

The early finish to the year was a disappointing end to a spectacular season, which saw the 27-year-old secure the year-end No. 1 ranking for the second year running.

US world No. 5 Stephens was another casualty.

She narrowly escaped defeat in the first round and slumped out to Kazak qualifier Yulia Putintseva 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0, meekly surrendering in the final set.

In other matches yesterday, Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky beat Australia’s Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and is to meet Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in the last eight.

In the men’s draw, third seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina booked his place in the quarters by beating Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in two sets. He is next to face Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka.

Veteran Italian Andreas Seppi is also through to meet top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, while fifth seed Alex de Minaur set up an all-Australian last eight with Jordan Thompson.

France’s Gilles Simon is to take on another Australian, John Millman.

Additional reporting by staff writer

HOBART INTERNATIONAL

AP, HOBART, Australia

Belinda Bencic eased into the quarter-finals, beating Australian wild-card Zoe Hives 6-2, 6-4.

Hives pulled off an upset when she beat Johanna Larsson to reach the second round, but could not repeat that form against a polished Bencic, who set up a quarter-final against 18-year-old Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska.

Seventh seed Kirsten Flipkens moved on with a 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-1 win over Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia continued her strong start to the year, beating eighth seed Alison van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-2.

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