Two of 3 seeds left standing at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico will have to play each other in the quarter-finals after Saisa Zheng beat Chinese compatriot Lin Zhu and American Ann Li defeated Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia on Thursday.
Zheng, the No 3 seed, proved too strong for Zhu, winning in an hour 31 minutes, 6-1 6-2, while Li, seeded 8th, took 15 minutes less time but dropped more games to Zidansek before coming through a tighter affair, 6-4 6-3.
Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya, who came through qualifying and took out the No 2 seed Nadia Podoroska from Argentina on Tuesday, continued her run with a 6-4 6-3 win over Nina Stojanovic from Serbia.
Stojanovic struck the fastest serve of the day with a 174 km delivery, but couldn’t quite tip the scales.
Another qualifier, Viktorija Golubic from Switzerland is on a fine run of form too, having reached the final in Lyon.
On Thursday the Swiss had little trouble dealing with Lauren Davis from the United States, winning through 6-3 6-1.
On Friday, the quarter-finals will pitch Canada’s Leylah Fernandez against Viktoria Kuzmova from Slovakia.
Fernandez is finding form too, after a rough start to the season, in her fifth event of the year.
On Wednesday, she defeated qualifier Kristina Kucova, 6-1 6-4, who dismissed the event’s No 1 seed Sloane Stephens in the previous round.
The 18-year-old revealed that her father taught her how to incorporate the element of surprise at an early age and her canny use of the drop-shot proved testimony to that.
Fernandez looks up to major champions Roger Federer and Justine Henin as inspiration, masters of well-disguised drop-shots and unexpected slices.
“From the very beginning, my dad would always tell me to use that element of surprise of pushing the player back and bringing them forward or just using the slices, the drop shots—like what Federer would do—Justine Henin would do it,” Fernandez told the media.
The World No 89 explained how she didn’t have much of an opportunity to use these shots in her opening match against American CoCo Vandeweghe, but was happy to get back to business as usual against Kucova.
Fernandez is now set to battle World No 28 Kuzmova for a spot in the WTA 250-level event’s semi-final.
The other top half quarter is between Anna Karolina Scmiedlova from Slovakia and Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, the 7th seed.
In the bottom half, Li (8) will play Zheng (3), while Golubic takes on Kalinskaya.
In the doubles, Britain’s Heather Watson & Zheng are in the finals, having received a walkover from Russia’s Anna Blinkova & Podoroska in Friday’s semi-finals.
On Thursday, the Anglo-Chinese pair upset the No 1 seeded pair of American Desirae Krawczyk & Giuliana Olmos from Mexico, 1-6 6-3 [10-5].
Australian Ellen Perez & Lara Arruabarrena from Spain, the No 4 seeds, scored a straight-sets win over Polish combination Paula Kania-Chodun & Katarzyna Piter, 7-6(4) 6-4, setting up a semi-final showdown with American 2nd seeds, Caroline Dolehide & Asia Muhammad, who battled past Victoria Kuzmova & Schmiedlova from Slovakia, 6-7(2) 6-4 [10-6],