In a tense encounter played out in front of a rapturous home audience at the Shenzhen Open, fourth seed Wang Qiang overcame a dismal mid-match dip in form to battle past Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 0-6 7-6(5) in two hours and 10 minutes on Centre Court.
World No.28 Wang started strong with breaks in the third and fifth games of the opener, holding out to take a one set lead even though she lost her serve once in the sixth game. The second set was handed on a platter to world No.69 Sasnovich as Wang struggled with her serve; the Chinese won 28% of her service points and did not save a single one of the three break points she faced.
In the decider, 27-year-old Wang blinked first as she lost her serve in the fourth game to go 1-3 down, but the Chinese ace showed immense grit to recover a break in the seventh game and take the match into a thrilling tiebreak finale.
The local lass raced to a 3-0 lead but unforced errors by the Chinese and aggressive play by 25-year-old Sasnovich brought the tie to a tense deadlock at 5-5. In the end, it was two consecutive errors by the Belarusian that gave Wang a much-deserved victory and a spot in tomorrow’s quarterfinal.
Former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza of Spain weathered a late resurgence from American Shelby Rogers to complete a 6-1 7-6(2) straight-sets victory in one hour and 23 minutes in the day’s first match on Centre Court.
Having lost her serve twice in the first set and again in the third game of the second set, Rogers seemed on course for a humbling defeat but the American rallied to level matters and force a tiebreak. The sixth-seeded Spaniard started the tiebreak confidently, racing to a 4-0 lead before holding serve and eventually closing out the match with a powerful forehand drive to record her first consecutive win since last year’s French Open.
Meanwhile, Russian fifth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova recorded her best start to the season in four years as she moved into tomorrow’s quarterfinal with a well-fought 7-6(7) 6-1 victory over China’s Peng Shuai.
In the most closely contested match of the tournament so far, Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas overcame an intense fightback from top seed Belinda Bencic’s conqueror Anna Blinkova to win 6-1 6-7(9) 6-4 in two hours and 45 minutes on Court 1. The match featured the tournament’s longest game thus far (22 points in seventh game of first set), the longest tie-break and the most break points of the tournament so far – Diyas converted nine of 22 and Blinkova converted five of 17. In a nail-biting second set tie-break, Russian world No. 58 Blinkova saved two match points and squandered five set points before finally forcing the rubber.
All four singles quarterfinal matches will be played on Centre Court tomorrow, commencing with Diyas taking on Muguruza and followed by Wang against Alexandrova – both first time meetings.