BEIJING • Garbine Muguruza celebrated her 22nd birthday in style yesterday by qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
The Spaniard clinched a place in the elite eight-woman singles field with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the China Open. Organisers handed the world No. 5 a present after the third-round match and Muguruza broke into a jig after finding her ticket to the season-ender in the box.
"I'm very excited to have qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore," she told the WTA website.
"This has been an exciting year for me. I have worked very hard this last month and I am really happy how it has paid off.
"Qualifying for Singapore is a great reward. I have great memories from Singapore last year playing doubles and this time I am looking forward to compete against the best singles players in the world."
Muguruza has enjoyed a breakthrough year, reaching the finals at Wimbledon and the Wuhan Open.
She joins world No. 2 Simona Halep and No. 3 Maria Sharapova in the WTA Finals, with five more spots still to be determined following top-ranked Serena Williams' withdrawal.
US Open champion Flavia Pennetta went into yesterday's match against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova seventh on the Road to Singapore leaderboard. But her 6-3, 4-6, 3-6 loss put her qualification in question. The Italian has also cast doubts over a swansong in Singapore should she make it.
Having declared after her US Open triumph she would quit this year, the 33-year-old has now reserved the right to change her mind.
Responding to a question about whether she might play at next year's Olympics, Pennetta said: "I cannot tell you how I'm going to feel in February, January.
"If I feel I want to play, I play. I don't have to keep just one decision because I said something."
In the China Open men's draw, Croat Ivo Karlovic smashed Goran Ivanisevic's record to become the all-time leading scorer of aces - but still exited the tournament as he lost to Pablo Cuevas.
The 2.11m Karlovic hammered 26 aces in his 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (9-7) defeat, reaching a career total of 10,247 and surpassing compatriot Ivanisevic's 10,237 along the way.
Men's q-finals 1 & 2: StarHub Ch201, 12.30pm & 7.30pm
Women's q-finals 2 & 3: StarHub Ch203, 2.30pm