Zhuhai | Garcia beats Sabalenka to put Barty into last four
Despite losing her opening match on Tuesday, Ashleigh Barty has made it into the semi-finals of the WTA Elite Trophy from the sidelines as France’s No 1 Caroline Garcia dispatched Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets on Friday to complete action in the Orchid round robin group.
I'm happy with the win. I was solid; it was much better than yesterday. It's still a win but it's a disappointment to finish third. Caroline Garcia
Garcia narrowly missed her opportunity to head her group and secure the semi-final slot by winning, 6-4 6-4, losing more than 7 games to the Belarusian, and sending Barty into the knockout stage of the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
A straight-sets win, or even a loss in three sets, would have been enough for 20-year-old Sabalenka to advance, but the tournament’s youngest player joins Garcia in being eliminated from the Zhuhai tournament.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Garcia told reporters.
“After yesterday’s match I wanted to win today, but I was not really thinking about qualifying for the semi-final.”
Barty’s 6-3 6-4 win over Garcia means the Frenchwoman ended up bottom of the group of three, while the Aussie reaches the semi-finals in Zhuhai for the second straight year.
“I’m happy with the win,” Garcia said. “I was solid; it was much better than yesterday. It’s still a win but it’s a disappointment to finish third.”
The fans at the Hengqin International Tennis Center witnessed a tense encounter between third seed Sabalenka and 8th-seeded Garcia, with both players showing signs of frustration at times.
Garcia needed to hold her nerve to take the first set, and serving at 5-4 up, she faced 3 break points at 0-40 down, but managed to claw back to clinch the set.
She continued that momentum into the second, immediately breaking Sabalenka’s first service game, and it felt like the World No 18 could qualify for the semi-finals but. at 3-5 down, the Belarusian snatched the chance away by holding before the 22-year old Frenchwoman sealed the match in the following game.
Barty joins Germany’s Julia Goerges in Saturday’s semi-finals, while Anastasija Sevastova and Garbiñe Muguruza’s Camellia match on Friday would decide the third player to qualify.
In the final match of the Azalea Group, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina and Wang Qiang could all still qualify but Keys will go through if she beats China’s Wang in straight sets later on Friday.
The Elite Trophy features 12 players ranked roughly from nine to 20. This year’s total prize money is $2.35 million across the singles and doubles tournaments.