Australia’s Ashleigh Barty had to dig deep to overcome Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Wuhan Open in China on Thursday, beating the Russian 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to move into the semi-finals.
In-form Barty is currently ranked 17th in the world, and a strong finish in Wuhan a WTA Premier 5 tournament with 900 points for the winner could help her inch up the rankings before the end of the season.
Barty started strongly against the 39th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova, taking the first set 6-2.
But the Russian did not appear in a mood to give in too easily and made an aggressive recovery to take the second set.
Barty, who has been impressive in her run to the final four at Wuhan, then regained her grip on the close encounter and survived Pavlyuchenkova’s fightback.
“I’m lucky to get out of that match,” Australia’s top-ranked player said. “It was extremely close, could’ve gone either way, but happy to give myself another opportunity tomorrow.”
Pavlyuchenkova “got more aggressive and I wasn’t able to quite go with her”, Barty said of the Russian’s second-set fightback.
Barty pulled off one of the upsets of the tournament on Wednesday when she knocked out Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in straight sets, not allowing the world number three any momentum.
The 22-year-old Barty said she is looking to sustain that momentum to end 2018 on “the best note possible, whether that is results-based or feelings-based”.
“I just need to continue to do the right things, to try and take every match as it comes,” Barty added.
“At the end of the season, it’s important to do that more so than any other time.”