STRASBOURG, France - Top seed Ashleigh Barty broke new ground at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Thursday, reaching the semifinals for the first time in her career.
The Australian No.1, who reached the quarterfinals last year as a qualifier, went at least one better as she secured her third straight sets win of her campaign this week by defeating China's Wang Qiang, 7-5, 6-4.
After never facing break point in the opening set, securing the lone break as Wang served to force a tiebreak, Barty won the last three games of the match from a break behind in the second set.
"I think it was a very tough match right from the first point," Barty said after the match. "I think in the first set, I served very well to set up my own service games and then had to fight very hard in the second set to get myself back into it.
"I felt very clean off the ground today and felt like that was my best match so far this week."
The World No.17 earned a nearly 90-minute victory over a solid baseliner in China's No.4 behind 30 winners to 25 unforced errors, as Wang misfired 26 times over the course of the match to just 15 winners of her own.
Though Wang served at 73% for the match, Barty created an abundance of chances to break over the course of two sets, going 3-for-12 overall.
There was little to separate the two players over the first 11 games of the match which all went with serve, in which Barty held at love four times and Wang saved two break points in the sixth game, and two set points in the 10th.
However, the Australian No.1 came through in the clutch when it mattered, as a 0-30 lead - her third lead in a Wang service game in the set - helped her get over the line and seal the opener on her second set point.
"She's a fantastic player - she really is. I've hit with her many a time. I had to be very ready today," Barty added. "It was a great match that could've gone either way, and it was a great quality level out there."
After her fifth love hold in her last six service games, Barty was increasingly tested on serve to begin the second set. She was taken to deuce in both the third and fifth games, saving the first break point she faced in the match in the latter, only to drop serve at her next opportunity,
However, Barty quickly pounced on return to again draw level, and though Wang had opportunities to win each of the last two games herself, both went to the Aussie as she wrapped up the win in one hour, 28 minutes.
The 22-year-old will look to reach her second final of the season, and the first of her career on clay, against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who also saw off Zarina Diyas in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
"I've had great success in both singles and doubles here," Barty said. "I'm very happy to be playing well in preparation for next week. If I play the right way, I can do well [on clay]."