Top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus advanced to the quarterfinals of the Shenzhen Open for the second year in a row, awaiting a meeting with fifth seed Maria Sharapova, to whom she lost in the Tianjin 2017 finals in their only previous encounter on tour.
The world No.13 Sabalenka recorded a 6-3 6-3 victory over Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, after having her serve broken early in the third game of the match but coming back strongly to break her opponent in the fourth and eight games to take a one set lead. The Belarusian, who reached a career-high ranking of No.11 in October last year after capturing the second title of her career and of the year at Wuhan, converted three more breaks in the second set to move into the final eight.
As for Sharapova’s victory, it involved a heartbreak for teenage Chinese wildcard Wang Xinyu, who was forced to retire from the second-round match after putting on a devastating showcase of aggressive tennis to take a one set lead. The score stood at 6-7(4) 5-2 after one hour and 45 minutes.
The hard-hitting 17-year-old started off strongly, outclassing her illustrious opponent with powerful forehand winners down the line and notching the opening break of the first set in the fourth game, much to the appreciation of a raucous local crowd.
Wang once again started aggressively in the second set, breaking her 31-year-old opponent in the first game, but the Russian retaliated with a break on her own in the fourth to level matters.
Disaster struck early in the sixth game, when Wang called for a medical timeout to have her left thigh attended to for cramping. She bravely attempted to continue with her leg tightly wrapped, but after serving for the second point of the game, she collapsed to the floor when she tried to reach for Sharapova’s return.
Wang received a two game penalty for interrupting the match and for calling a second medical timeout, and when it became clear the match was over, Sharapova rushed to comfort the youngster who was in tears on her bench.
The other three quarterfinal pairs at the 2019 Shenzhen Open are: Monica Niculescu vs. Wang Yafan, Sorana Cirstea vs. Alison Riske and Veronika Kudermetova vs. Vera Zvonareva. (source: Shenzhen Open press release)