Serena Williams fended off a second set fight back from Czech Lucie Safarova to advance 6-1 1-6 6-2 into the last 8 of the China Open on Thursday.
Having cruised through the first set 6-1 in 26 minutes, the top seed came up against an energetic Safarova in the the second set; the third seed winning five games in a row from 1-all to close out the second set, 1-6 and force a decider.
Williams converted a break point in the first game of the decider with an ace and upped the antics to finish off the contest. The Us Open champion takes on Australia’s Sam Stossur in the semi-final.
Second seed Simona Halep and third seed Petra Kvitova both advanced into the quarter-final.
Halep struggled through late fitness problems to outlast No. 15 seed Andrea Petkovic 7-6(7-4) 5-7 7-6(7-1) in two hours and 35 minutes.
The Romanian then announced after the match she has withdrawn from the championship due to a left hip injury, giving No.9 seed Ana Ivanovic, who beat Sabine Lisicki, 6-3 7-5, a walkover into the semifinal round.
“It was a great match today,” Ivanovic commented. “It’s always tough playing Sabine. She’s a big hitter and a big server, so today I tried to take the ball early and be aggressive, and move her around a little bit more. I also played well on the important points today so I’m very happy about that.”
Czech Kvitova didn’t have to take to the court to reach the last 8 following 16th seed Venus Williams’ withdrawal because of a viral illness. The Wuhan winner play Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the last 8.
A couple of third round upsets ensured the completion of the final line-up for the 2014 season-ending WTA Finals. Seventh seed Angelique Kerber and No. 12 seed Ekaterina Makarova both suffered surprise defeats.
Germany’s Kerber lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 6-4 6-3, while Vinci beat another Russian Makarova, 6-1 0-6 7-5, allowing the Canadian pair of Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, and Serb Ana Ivanovic to snap up the last four spots in the elite eight field at the WTA’s crown jewel event.
Russia’s Kuznetsova will play Maria Sharapova in the next round.