The ASB Classic was reduced to only three seeded players after the second round yesterday, in which second seed Julia Goerges was knocked out by Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.
Although ranked 55 places ahead of Larsson, the world No. 18 was outplayed 7-5, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3 in a 2 hour, 32 minute slugfest.
Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, the sixth seed, was shown the door by Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-3, leaving Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, Belgian Yanina Wickmayer and Germany’s Mona Barthel as the only seeds remaining.
After Larsson took the first set in a 50 minute battle, she dropped the second in a tiebreak before breaking Goerges midway through the third set and holding on for victory.
It was the ideal start to the year, said Larsson, who now faces eighth-seed Barthel in the quarter-finals.
“I’m extremely happy to be in the quarters this early on in the year, it means very much to me,” she said.
Barthel beat two-time Auckland champion Eleni Daniilidou 7-6, (8/6) 6-2 to book her place in the final eight.
Top seed Radwanska was untroubled in her second-round 6-3, 6-1 win over Romania’s Simona Halep.
After a slow start, Radwanska stepped up a gear at 3-3 in the first set to shut Halep out of the game and set up a quarter-final against Vesnina.
Third seed Yanina Wickmayer took time to find her rhythm against Romani Oprandi and served four double faults in her first two service games before settling down to win 6-3, 6-0.
She next plays fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, while giant-killers Kiki Bertens and Jamie Hampton, who disposed of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Zheng Jie in the first round, clash in the remaining quarter-final.
Bertens beat Britain’s Heather Watson 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the second round, while Hampton beat Watson’s doubles partner, Marina Erakovic of New Zealand, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5).
In Shenzhen, China, Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen was beaten by Zhou Yimiao of China 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.