TENNIS

Svitolina downs number one for second time at China Open

The world number 19 knocked out Angelique Kerber in Beijing, repeating the number one trick she managed in Rio in defeating Serena Williams.

0
Svitolina downs number one for second time at China Open
NICOLAS ASFOURI AFP

Ukrainian Elina Svitolina scored her second win this year over a world number one, ousting Angelique Kerber in the round of 16 in Beijing on Thursday.

Nineteenth-ranked Svitolina took just two sets to beat newly crowned number one Kerber -- who ascended to the top spot at the US Open, the same week she also claimed her second Grand Slam crown -- with a 6-3, 7-5 win.

Serena Rio victory

The 22-year-old left Serena Williams in tears in Rio in August, denying the 22-time Grand Slam champion a fifth Olympic gold medal with a straight set win.

"When they announce (the names at the start of the march) you have this weird feeling because you realise you're playing against world number one", Svitolina said after the match. "I try to really don't think about it. If I think too much, I lose my way," she added.

Kerber, who had her right thigh taped during the match, had a break lead in each set but appeared glued to the baseline and was unable to take control.

"I know that I have to move very well when I play my game, and I couldn't play my game like I play," Kerber told reporters.

The German still plans to play in Hong Kong next week as she chases points to end the year at number one -- but her right leg may alter her plans.

"Still it's in my schedule to play Hong Kong. It's right after the match, so I don't know exactly with my leg or whatever. But it's still in my schedule," she said.

Konta edges towards top 10

Briton Johanna Konta secured her first ever win over US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova in a three set tie break, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2).

With a victory over the sixth-ranked Czech, Konta -- currently at number 14 -- moves closer to breaking into the top ten for the first time.

The win also moves the 25-year-old into tenth position in the race for the eight-player WTA Final in Singapore, meaning she could play if one of the eight dropped out.

But if fellow quarter-finalist Petra Kvitova, currently 12th in the race, continues her stellar Asian run, the Briton could be nudged out.

Radwanska through

Agnieszka Radwanska secured her second consecutive win over former number one Caroline Wozniacki to reach the China Open quarter-finals.

The pair have met three times in as many weeks, with Wozniacki coming out on top in the first encounter in Tokyo.

Wozniacki went on to bag the title in the Japanese capital, but Radwanska ended her seven-match winning streak at last week's Wuhan Open by ousting the Dane in the round of 16.

Third-ranked Radwanska booked her Beijing quarter-final spot on the third match point with an impressive run to the net to return a drop shot from the Dane. Wozniacki lobbed the return, but the Pole made it to that one to take the match 6-3, 6-1.

"I knew nothing's going to come for free. I was really trying to be aggressive from the first point and also from the return," Radwanska told reporters.

"We know each other for 17 years. Practising together as well almost every tournament, playing some matches against each other. I think we know about each other everything," she added.

Japan Open

At the Japan Open French second seed Gael Monfils advanced to the quarter-finals with a victory over compatriot Gilles Simon on Thursday in a field blighted by injury.

The world number eight nailed seven aces to oust Simon 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 16 minutes.

The triumph was 30-year-old Monfils' second victory against Simon, ranked 30th in the world, in their eight ATP meetings.

Monfils, who has made it to the semi-final in the US Open but fell to Novak Djokovic, was a runner-up at the Japan Open's 2010 edition, when Rafael Nadal triumphed.

In the quarter-finals Friday, the Frenchman will face Croatian seventh seed Ivo Karlovic (CRO), who tiptoed past Serb Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (11/9), 7-6 (7/5).

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg beat Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3, 6-4, and will be pitted against Australian Nick Kyrgios, who received a pass after Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic retired due to a back problem.

The tournament has seen major players pull out through injury.

Defending champion and US Open winner Stan Wawrinka did not take part in the Tokyo event over back trouble, while local favourite Kei Nishikori, winner in 2014 and 2012, could not finish his second-round match Wednesday because of muscle strain.

He now plans to skip next week's Shanghai Masters, but is slated to return to the court at the Swiss Indoors Basel meet later this month.

Eight seed Feliciano López of Spain retired with injury Tuesday.

Injuries also forced Argentina's Juan Martín Del Potro, Japan Open winner in 2013, to skip the tournament after receiving an invitation to join as a wildcard.