BEIJING, China – Wang Qiang’s impressive Asian swing continued as she claimed a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Karolina Pliskova in the third round of the China Open.
The Chinese reached the semifinals in both Hiroshima and Wuhan, won in Guangzhou and can now celebrate a first quarterfinal appearance at Premier Mandatory level thanks to her 15th win in her last 17 matches.
Wang had come out on top when these players met in Wuhan last week, requiring three sets to overcome the WTA World No.7. She ran away with the opener 6-1 on that occasion but found the going much harder here.
The Chinese did make an early breakthrough, winning the third game on Pliskova’s serve as the Czech went long.
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While Wang had the better of the first set thereafter, giving up only one break point, she was unable to give shake off her higher-ranked opponent. Nevertheless, serving well, she closed the set out with confidence.
Pliskova came out a different player at the beginning of the second. Her persistent hard hitting in the opener allowed Wang to get into a groove, but greater variation of pace and direction meant that she broke in the second game to help her to a 4-1 lead.
And the Czech had the opportunity to go 5-1 up when she crafted a couple of break points with two fine volleys to move to 15-40 on her opponent’s serve. In what was to prove a watershed moment in the match, Wang saved both to once again close the gap.
Having survived a moment of crisis, Wang regained the upper hand, albeit with some help from Pliskova, who hit needlessly long then double faulted when break point down to cede her advantage.
What followed was an epic eight-minute game in which there were four deuces, but again it was the home favorite who prevailed to draw back level.
Pliskova was increasingly making errors and tamely lost serve for a second time in succession, again throwing in a double fault to aid her in-form opponent, who was now just a game from victory.
And at the first time of asking, showing the confidence of a player on a lengthy hot streak, Wang closed the match out to secure a date with either Aryna Sabalenka or No.4 seed Caroline Garcia.