Australia’s Ashleigh Barty stunned former world number one Angelique Kerber in straight sets to reach the WTA Elite Trophy semi-finals on Thursday.
Twenty-one-year-old Barty, the youngest player at the season-ending tournament in Zhuhai, China, needed just one hour and 11 minutes to down her German opponent 6-3, 6-4 at the Hengqin International Tennis Center.
It follows an impressive victory over fourth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia on Wednesday, also in straight sets. Barty got off to an impressive start against eighth seed Kerber, securing a break in the sixth game and then firing an ace to win the set.
The pair exchanged breaks at the beginning of the second set as Kerber fought back, but Barty prevailed helped by her 11 aces to the German’s two. The pair’s sole previous meeting was in Brisbane in January when Kerber, then world number one and the reigning Australian and US Open champion, survived a big scare from the Australian wild card entry.
Barty, the 2011 junior Wimbledon champion, has enjoyed a resurgence since returning to tennis in 2016 after a spell with the Brisbane Heat cricket team.
She began the year ranked outside the top 300 but has since soared to world number 20 and recently became Australia’s number one.
She reached her first Premier 5 tournament final in Wuhan in September after crushing French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, but ultimately fell to France’s Caroline Garcia.—APP