FILE PHOTO: Sep 1, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia hits a backhand against Qiang Wang of China (not pictured) in the fourth round on day seven of the 2019 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
(Reuters) – World number one Ash Barty fended off a late comeback attempt by American Sofia Kenin to reach the Wuhan Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, while Simona Halep retired from her match due to a lower back injury.
After cruising through the first set without any trouble, Barty fought back from a break down in the next, saving two set points to overcome Kenin 6-3 7-5 for her third win over the 20-year-old Guangzhou champion in four meetings this season.
Next up for the Australian top seed will be Petra Martic who defeated qualifier Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-1.
Former French Open champion Halep was forced to quit in the opening set of her encounter with wildcard Elena Rybakina while trailing 5-4 after feeling sharp pain.
“It’s a lower back (injury). I think it’s more muscle, but I don’t know yet because I didn’t check it properly,” the fourth seed told a news conference.
The Romanian had suffered a herniated disk late last year which ruled her out of the season-ending WTA Finals.
“At four-all, 0-30, with the backhand. I had a sharp pain. I don’t know yet (if it is the same as the previous injury). It looks a little bit different but it’s still the same zone.”
Rybakina will next face Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka who dispatched sixth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-1 7-6(9) for a spot in her first Premier-level semi-final.
Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 6-2 to stay on course to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen where she will bid to retain her title.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris