HONG KONG: Chinese number one Wang Qiang wrapped up the biggest win of her season Saturday, after an overnight rain delay forced her to wait to claim victory over world number five Elina Svitolina at the Hong Kong Open.
She needed just 10 minutes on court to end the Ukrainian’s resistance, sealing the 6-2, 6-4 quarter final win with an ace.
The 26-year-old was serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set when the heavens opened on Friday evening.
Svitolina, the tournament’s top seed, was Wang’s highest-ranked top-10 scalp this year.
She was unable to capitalise on her stay of execution despite breaking Wang to go 3-5 and then holding her own serve.
The Rome champion, who had been hoping to sew up qualification in Hong Kong for the WTA Finals, said Saturday that she was a “fighter” and had come back on court believing he still had a chance.
“But in the end (Wang) had the advantage, she had the confidence definitely,” Svitolina said.
“Yesterday she was playing really great tennis – I was missing a lot, my game was really off.”
She added: “It was a really bad performance from me, so I was very disappointed that I couldn’t play even 20% of the game that I can play.”
Wang, the world number 24, grabbed headlines at the French Open with her straight-sets demolition of Venus Williams, offering a hint of what was to come, and later overcame Karolína Plíšková in both Beijing and Wuhan.
She also beat Caroline Wozniacki in 2013 aged just 21 when the Dane was ranked number 10.
The Hong Kong quarterfinal was a repeat of August’s US Open third round contest, which the Ukrainian won in straight sets, but here the tables were turned with Svitolina receiving a tennis masterclass from her opponent.
Both players came to the tournament in hot form, with Svitolina winning two WTA titles in just four months. She is battling four other players, including Plíšková, for the final three places at the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month.
Svitolina, who is now looking for a tournament wild card to boost her Singapore chances, is also in the hunt for a new fitness and main coach for next season.
Wang leapfrogged Zhang Shuai to become China’s number one women’s singles player after winning the Guangzhou Open in September.
It was her second career title after beating compatriot Zheng Saisai at the Jiangxi Open in July.
She has said she is aiming to break into the top 20 in the new year.
Wang, a semifinalist in Hong Kong last year, faces former world number one Garbiñe Muguruza later Saturday for a place in the final.