NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain -- No.1 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia swiftly booked her spot in the Nature Valley Open quarterfinals on Thursday, with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over China's Duan Ying-Ying that took just over an hour in windy weather.
After the match, Barty told the media that Duan was a "very difficult opponent, and I think the conditions made it even more so. But I’m very happy to come through in a reasonably clean way."
The Australian, currently ranked World No.17, eased past Duan with a barrage of strong serving -- Barty had six aces during the encounter, and won 82 percent of points on her first serve. Barty also saved the two break points against her in the match, both of which came in the very last game.
"I feel like I always play well in Nottingham," Barty continued, "so hopefully it’s third time lucky, and I can get one step farther in the tournament." Barty fell in the quarterfinal round in the last two years -- to eventual champion Karolina Pliskova in 2016, and eventual runner-up Johanna Konta last year.
Barty will face British wild card Katie Boulter in the final eight, after the Brit reached the first WTA quarterfinal of her career by shocking 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, 7-6(6), 6-1, earlier on Thursday. "I actually don’t know Katie very well at all," Barty exclaimed. "I think I’ll have to have a bit of a peek tonight, see what I can find out, and then try and prepare as best I can."
Barty started the match strongly, and, after holding for 2-1 with a second service ace, broke Duan at love for a 3-1 lead after the Chinese player hit three consecutive errors from her backhand side. Barty then held at love for a 4-1 lead behind excellent serving.
Duan recovered from a 0-30 start in the next game, ending a 13-point winning streak for Barty and eventually holding serve to get to 2-4. Duan then had to fend off a set point in her next service game before holding for 3-5, after the Chinese player emerged victorious during an all-court rally via a backhand winner down the line.
Barty, however, was quickly able to close out the set in the next game after Duan slammed a service return into the net on the Australian’s second set point. Barty won 12 out of 13 points on her first serve during the opening frame.
Barty rapidly leapt to a substantial lead in the second set, clinching a 5-1 advantage with a backhand winner. Duan had to fend off a match point in the following game, but the player from China erased it with a powerful serve, and then held for 5-2 with a forehand winner, forcing Barty to win the match on her own delivery.
Barty wobbled on serve for the only time in the match at 6-3, 5-2, with Duan grasping her first two break points of the tilt. But Barty saved the first with a strong serve and the second with a well-placed overhead, and after that shot, she closed out her victory with two consecutive aces.