Wang on brink of year's biggest win as rain stops play in Hong Kong

Wang Qiang of China hits a return during her quarter-final women's singles match against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine at the Hong Kong Open tennis tournament on October 12, 2018. ― AFP pic
Wang Qiang of China hits a return during her quarter-final women's singles match against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine at the Hong Kong Open tennis tournament on October 12, 2018. ― AFP pic

HONG KONG, Oct 12 ― Chinese number one Wang Qiang was on the brink of the biggest win of her season today when rain abruptly stopped her quarter final against world number five Elina Svitolina.

The 26-year-old was serving for the match at 15-30, 5-2 in the second set ― after cruising to a 6-2 victory in the first set ― when the heavens opened.

Play was later suspended until Saturday, giving the sixth seed an agonising overnight wait to close out the win.

Svitolina would be Wang's highest-ranked top ten scalp this year.

The current world number 24 grabbed headlines at the French Open with her straight-sets demolition of Venus Williams, offering a hint of what was to come.

She later overcame Karolina Pliskova in both Beijing and Wuhan, but none of the victories was against such a high ranked opponent as Svitolina.

She also beat Caroline Wozniacki in 2013 aged just 21 when the Dane was ranked number 10.

Wang had seemed in complete control during the match, with the under pressure Svitolina committing a string of unforced errors, before the top seeded Ukrainian was saved by the weather.

The eventual winner will play former world number one Garbine Muguruza, who fought off a late comeback by Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum to win 6-2, 7-5.

Muguruza, the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon champion, is keen to finish what has been by her standards a disappointing season on a high.

She has slumped to a world ranking of 13, while her best Grand Slam performance was a semi final at Roland Garros.

The Spaniard was relieved to keep the hard-fought match to just two sets ahead of her Saturday semi.

“It was very competitive,” the 25-year-old.

Kumkhum broke her as she served for the match, levelling the scores at 5-5, before Muguruza finally overcame her opponent, who is ranked 105.

“I feel in the second set she was playing so much better ― it was a full battle. I think the difference was a couple of points.”

Earlier, China's Zhang Shuai looked in ominous form as she swatted aside last year's runner-up Daria Gavrilova in straight sets.

The world number 39 overwhelmed her Australian opponent ― who is ranked five places above her ― with the power and precision of her ground strokes and ran away with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 victory after little more than an hour on court.

Zhang, China's number two, will make her debut in the Hong Kong semis tomorrow when she takes on Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska.

“The first and second rounds gave me a lot of confidence ― that's why today I played really well,” the 29-year-old said.

Zhang will be favourite to win against 18-year-old Yastremska, currently ranked 102.

The 2016 Wimbledon girls singles finalist fought back from an early setback to win only her second WTA quarter-final earlier today.

The teen quickly went down 4-0 to outsider Kristina Kucova ― the world number 317 who knocked out Jelena Ostapenko in the first round ― before recovering to win 7-6 (8/6), 6-2. ― AFP

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