The Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai now has a trio of semi-finalists after Ashleigh Barty, Anastasija Sevastova and CoCo Vandeweghe all scored vital wins in their respective groups on Thursday.
Julia Goerges and Kristina Mladenovic face off in Friday’s final group matches for a chance to complete the quartet.
Twenty-one-year-old Barty earned her place in Saturday’s semi-finals with a confident, comprehensive 63 64 win over former World No.1 Angelique Kerber to give herself an unassailable lead at the top of the Rose Group.
Sevastova was also in imperious form, wrapping up her second consecutive straight sets win with a 63 64 win over Barbora Strycova to take charge of the Camellia Group and stifle any chance of US Open champion Sloane Stephens overtaking her.
Vandeweghe looked equally assured in beating an injured Elena Vesnina 63 62, following up on Tuesday’s victory over Shuai Peng to ensure supremacy in the Bougainvillea Group.
Goerges and Mladenovic, who are first up on Friday’s Order of Play in Zhuhai, head into their match with different tasks ahead of them. Goerges only needs to win one set to progress to the semis, while Mladenovic must secure a straight sets win to have any chance of finishing ahead of the German in the Azalea Group.
Once the four semi-finalists have been decided a draw will take place to determine who plays whom.
COCO VANDEWEGHE QUOTES:
“I felt a lot better. I was feeling the court underneath me a little bit more. But also, I mean, it was tricky in itself, playing against an opponent that's obviously hampered, and you're just trying to kind of manage your own emotions with that and trying to keep your intensity, keep your focus, and that definitely gets a little bit tough.”
On her intensity:
“It's a little bit different each match. I think in the first match I just made myself hate my opponent so much. That's pretty much all it was. I just -- you know, nothing against her (smiling). It was just me, like, that's the only way I could get any sort of anger and intensity out, that I was going to hate my opponent that much just to get some fire going.”
“Second match, it was more inward, just allowing kind of momentum slip and knowing -- you know, I have been talking with Pat a bunch, and he's been very intense towards me about I work too darn hard to let these two matches slip. So that was kind of what I was tapping into for today's match.”
ANASTASIA SEVASTOVA QUOTES:
“I feel it's my best Asian tournament in this year, so I feel great in Zhuhai. Yeah, I'm very happy playing semifinals here. I haven't been playing so well in China, in Asia, particularly, but here somehow it suits my game, I think, the court, the balls. Yeah, I'm very happy. I love Zhuhai now (smiling).”
“I thought about this tournament actually differently, because I think it's like a normal tournament, because you have to win, like, two matches to advance. So I just thought about it like a normal tournament, and, yeah, for sure, it's a good feeling to be finished now and to be out of the group in the semifinals. Now I have a day off.”
ASHLEIGH BARTY QUOTES:
On playing Kerber in Brisbane in January and again this week:
“It was a bit of a full circle for us, the start and the end of the season. But, no, I felt like I was in a very different situation this time around. Again, I felt like I served great today and put myself in the right position right from the get-go.”
On her tough group:
“It was tough group for me because I hadn't actually beaten either of those girls. It's nice to sort of get that revenge this week, but I felt like I served great all week and put myself in a good position in my service games to then be super-aggressive and nice and clear when returning so I can, you know, have a little bit more of a crack and see if I can get some of those early breaks in the sets.
On playing well in China:
“I feel like the conditions suit me well here. It's quite similar to home. It can get quite hot here, which is like where I am from in Brisbane.”
“I certainly had a great time in China this year and Asia, as well. It's nice to come back and to finish the year here.”
"Probably since Wuhan it's been a bit of a change for me to play four or five, six really good matches in a row against quality opponents and really feel comfortable on the court. So I think for me that week was a big week in my career, and, yeah, I just feel like now when I walk out on the court I'm comfortable and confident against whoever I play.”
ANGELIQUE KERBER QUOTES:
On her season:
“I’m happy to finish the year right now. After a long year it’s always good to spend time at home. At the end I was fighting until the last tournament and trying my best but it was not the best season of my career. At the end I will just sit down, take a few days or a few weeks and look back; try to learn from the positives and think about to do better next year.”
On playing Barty:
“I think she played a consistent year, especially in the last few weeks and months she has played very well. She has nothing to lose; she’s playing her tennis and this is what makes her strong. She has a good serve and I know what to expect when I play against her. She’s always a tough opponent.”
RIGHTS-FREE IMAGES (please credit OSports):
Vandweghe versus Vesnina
Sevastova versus Strycova
Barty versus Kerber
RESULTS - NOVEMBER 2, 2017
Round Robin - Bougainvillea
 C. Vandeweghe (USA) d  E. Vesnina (RUS) 63 62
Round Robin - Camellia
 A. Sevastova (LAT) d  B. Strycova (CZE) 63 64
Round Robin - Rose
 A. Barty (AUS) d  A. Kerber (GER) 63 64
Round Robin - Lotus
 Y. Duan (CHN) / X. Han (CHN) d  R. Olaru (ROU) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 63 57 10-7
HENGQIN LIFE WTA ELITE TROPHY ZHUHAI 2017 - ZHUHAI, CHINA $2,280,935 31 OCT - 5 NOV, 2017
ORDER OF PLAY - FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2017
STADIUM start 3:00 pm
 K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs  J. Goerges (GER)
Not Before 4:00 pm
 E. Vesnina (RUS) vs  [WC] S. Peng (CHN)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 S. Stephens (USA) vs  B. Strycova (CZE)
 A. Rosolska (POL) / A. Smith (GBR) vs  [WC] X. Jiang (CHN) / Q. Tang (CHN)