Pliskova, Sabalenka power through in Tianjin

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. (AFP pic)

TIANJIN: Top seed Karolina Pliskova bulldozed her way into the Tianjin Open quarter-finals by beating Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-1 6-2 on Wednesday as the Czech power-hitter eyes a place at the WTA Finals later this month.

Pliskova, currently holding eighth spot in the Race to Singapore standings, must reach the semi-finals in Tianjin to secure one of the three available qualifying places for the season-ending tournament starting on Oct. 21.

The world number seven’s 50-minute win came after a powerful start and she claimed 80% of her first-serve points.

“I’m just happy that I didn’t spend that much time on the court today and I can rest a little bit and prepare for my next match,” Pliskova said.

Fellow Czech Barbora Krejcikova or Briton Katie Boulter awaits Pliskova in the last eight.

Fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka, who must lift the Tianjin trophy to maintain her slim chances of a WTA Finals debut, beat Poland’s Magda Linette 6-1 6-3 to reach the last eight.

“I was thinking I need to win this tournament – but at the moment I don’t care about Singapore,” the Belarusian said. “At the moment I’m focused on each match.”

Wuhan champion Sabalenka produced a string of powerful groundstrokes, giving her opponent no chance to find her rhythm.

The 20-year-old will face either Swiss Timea Bacsinszky or Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi in the quarter-finals.