Top seed and sole top 10 feature Johanna Konta took the court for her debut match at the WTA Elite Trophy in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai. Also in action that same day at the secondary-tier year-end championships were double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Swiss number one Timea Bacsinszky. All three women did not face much problems coming out on top their respective encounters to record their first wins at this year’s tournament.
Bacsinszky ends season with a win
Sixth seed Bacsinszky had no answers against a clinical Zhang Shuai during her opening match yesterday, managing just two games under her belt. With semifinal chances slowly diminishing, the Swiss had to win her final round robin rubber in the Camellia Group to somehow keep those hopes alive. She met 13th seed Timea Babos across the net in the opening match of the day. Babos squeaked into the draw after the withdrawal of second seed Carla Suárez Navarro due to an injured wrist.
Bacsinszky entered this match with a flawless 2-0 head-to-head record over Babos and kept that streak alive by scoring a 6-4, 6-2 win in exactly 80 minutes. After a slow start, dropping her opening service game to love, Bacsinszky settled in, stepping up her service games in the process as she went on to face just one more break point (which she saved) up 5-1 in the second set and broke Babos a further four times to score the victory.
Despite the win, Bacsinszky is out of the tournament due to the percentage games won technicality. Hence, the semifinal spot will come down between Zhang and Babos, who will do battle in the first match of the day tomorrow. A win for Zhang will see her safely through to the last four.
Konta shines in opening clash
The opening match of the Azalea Group featured a first-time match-up between Konta and eighth seed Samantha Stosur of Australia whereby a win will be crucial for the British number one. Not only will the victory put Konta in contention for the last four, it will ensure her a first ever top 10 finish to a season.
Konta kicked off proceedings by breaking Stosur twice to enact a 4-0 lead but it soon diminished as Stosur got one of the breaks back in the sixth game. Henceforth, there was no looking back for the top-seeded Konta as she ran away to a 6-4, 6-2 win over the Aussie in an hour and 18 minutes. Thus, Konta is guaranteed to end the year as world number 10.
Kvitova concludes singles action with impressive performance
Third seed Kvitova of the Peony Group took the court for the closing singles match of the day. The Czech, who is making her Zhuhai debut, is one of the favourites to win the title. Having won the Wuhan Open and making the last eight in Beijing last month, Kvitova was keen on keeping her strong form in Asia going. The Czech faced fifth seed Roberta Vinci, last year’s semifinalist in her debut match here. Having lost her opener to ninth seed Barbora Strycova yesterday, the Italian needed a win to keep her semifinal hopes alive.
Kvitova, who lost their previous encounter in Wuhan last year having led 4-0 in the first set, was set for a different outcome this time around. It was one of those fine days for the Czech, with winners flying from wing, as she avenged the earlier loss by defeating the Italian with the loss of just three games. Kvitova fired six aces and only dropped seven points on serve throughout the 46-minute contest. The result sends Vinci crashing out of the tournament.
The first match Thursday would be the aforementioned decisive clash between Zhang and Babos. Eleventh seed Caroline Garcia’s opening match in Zhuhai follows suit as the Frenchwoman takes on Stosur. Fourth seed Elina Svitolina and seventh seed Elena Vesnina of the Rose Group will then headline the evening session.