No.8 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia became the second player to seal a place in the Huafa Technology WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai semifinals after defeating No.9 seed Caroline Garcia 6-1, 7-6(4) in 1 hour and 37 minutes.
The result was Haddad Maia's second straight-sets win of the week following her opening 6-4, 6-4 victory over No.2 seed Madison Keys, and ensures that she tops the Camellia Group with an unbeaten 2-0 record. It was also her ninth Top 20 win of the season, and means she advances to her third semifinal of 2023 following Abu Dhabi and Roland Garros.
The Brazilian, who is making her debut in Zhuhai, joins No.6 seed and Azalea Group winner Daria Kasatkina in the last four. The semifinal lineup will be redrawn according to race qualification number with the two highest-ranked players on opposite sides; this will take place after the conclusion of Friday's group matches.
How Haddad Maia defeated Garcia: The Roland Garros semifinalist raced out of the blocks to begin the first-time encounter. After sweeping through the first 14 straight points, picking Garcia off with passes and teeing off on return, Haddad Maia got over halfway to a potential golden set. Though the Frenchwoman managed to avoid this, Haddad Maia nonetheless leapt out to a 5-0 lead.
Once Garcia got her first service hold on the board, it was too late to save the first set, but the match settled into a straightforward rhythm of easy holds. From Haddad Maia's hold for 5-0 in the first set until 4-4 in te second, 11 consecutive games passed without a hint of a break point.
The tightest passage of play followed with three multi-deuce tussles. A plethora of errors from Garcia left Haddad Maia serving for the match at 5-4, but the former US Open semifinalist rebounded immediately with her finest winners of of the day to break back. She then fended off four break points to hold for 6-5.
But Haddad Maia remained solid to snuff out Garcia's momentum. An efficient hold took her into the tiebreak, which she led all the way after Garcia's sixth double fault conceded the first mini-break.
Haddad Maia finished with 13 winners to nine unforced errors, while Garcia's 25 winners were outweighed by her 31 unforced errors.
In other news: Haddad Maia will be joined in the semifinals by China's Zhu Lin, who became the Rose Group winner as a result of a stunning comeback victory for Veronika Kudermetova against Liudmila Samsonova.
Kudermetova, already knocked out of semifinal contention, nonetheless saved two match points in a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win, denying Samsonova the semifinal berth in the process. Samsonova led 5-2, 40-15 on serve in the final set, but from there, Kudermetova won 19 of the last 23 points.
Kudermetova previously led 6-4, 3-0 in the match, having saved all seven break points she faced in the opening set.
All three players end the group stage with a 1-1 record, but wild card Zhu moves on as a result of a 3-2 record in sets won. She beat Kudermetova in straight sets and won a set in defeat against Samsonova.