WUHAN (China) • World No. 4 Karolina Pliskova saw any chance of returning to the top of the rankings next Monday evaporate when she was stunned by Australia's Ashleigh Barty in the Wuhan Open quarter-finals yesterday.
The Czech needed to win the Wuhan title - and hope for top-ranked Garbine Muguruza to lose to Jelena Ostapenko in her last-eight clash yesterday - in order to displace the Spaniard.
But even before Muguruza took on Ostapenko, Pliskova fell 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2), and the Wimbledon champion will go into next week's China Open in Beijing still as the world No. 1.
World No. 37 Barty failed to convert three match points in the third set, but dominated the deciding tiebreak to bag her first win against a top-five player. The 21-year-old had seen off Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded ninth, and Johanna Konta, the fifth seed, in a dream run in the humid Chinese city.
"I played a really good match and I'm just happy to come through at the end," she said. "It was really important for me to look after my service games, and obviously try and make inroads into Karolina's games and I was able to do that."
She will next face Ostapenko, who defeated Muguruza 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 yesterday to book a semi-final berth.
Ostapenko is chasing a spot at the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.
She is seventh in the Porsche Race to Singapore, behind the already-qualified Muguruza, Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams.
The top-eight singles players will qualify for the Oct 22-29 event. Briton Johanna Konta is eighth in the standings.
The world No. 7 has hailed the depth in women's tennis and believes female players still do not receive the credit they deserve for putting on top-quality matches.
She was involved in one of the best matches of the year at Wimbledon, fighting back from a set down to beat Halep to become the first British woman to reach the last four at the All England Club in 39 years.
A lot of women's matches this season "really kicked a***, they were outstanding", she said in Wuhan.
There have been many other notable clashes this season. Eugenie Bouchard beat Maria Sharapova in Madrid in a highly-anticipated grudge match, Muguruza overcame former top-ranked Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon, and unseeded Latvian Ostapenko thumped 54 winners to beat Halep in the French Open final.
"More credit needs to be given," said Konta. "There is so much talk that the women's draw is so open. But it's open in the sense of there are so many amazing players. We have the depth."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
WTA WUHAN OPEN
S-finals: StarHub Ch203, 3.30pm