Thursday’s round-robin play at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai saw Ashleigh Barty, Anastasija Sevastova and Coco Vandeweghe progress into the semifinals of the season-ending finale, as the tournament’s two Grand Slam champions, Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens, suffered elimination in the group stage of the event.
After winning her opening Rose Group match over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Wednesday, the brand new world No.20 Barty, seeded ninth, knocked out world No.19 Angelique Kerber from the competition, beating the German eighth seed 6-3 6-4 to advance to Zhuhai semifinals as a leader in her group.
Can you believe that then-world-number-one Kerber’s first match in the 2017 season was a win over 271th-ranked Barty at the Brisbane International and now the two-time Grand Slam champion’s season is closed by the same player, who has risen more than 250 ranking spots in the meantime. All Barty’s Top 20 victories came this season and this one over Kerber, who will now fall out of the Top 20 for the first time in five years, is her ninth.
After avenging a US Open quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Sloane Stephens in her Zhuhai opener, the fifth-seeded Sevastova advanced to the semifinals by beating 11th seed Barbora Stycova 6-3 6-4 to top the Camellia Group. Also perfect in Zhuhai’s round-robin stage was second seed Coco Vandeweghe, who followed up her opening win over Peng Shuai with a 6-3 6-2 win over Elena Vesnina in the Bougainvillea Group.
One semifinal spot is left now and it will go to either Julia Goerges or Kristina Mladenovic from the Azaela Group. They are opening Friday’s action at 3 p.m. local time.