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Svitolina, Pliskova storm into Brisbane quarters
January 04, 2018
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Brisbane: Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina continued her impressive start to the season when she demolished Croatian Ana Konjuh 6-3, 6-1 in the second round of the Brisbane International on Wednesday.

Svitolina took just 64 minutes to see off Konjuh at the Pat Rafter Arena and book an enticing quarter-final showdown with Britain’s Johanna Konta.

She was joined in the final eight by defending champion and second seed Karolina Pliskova, who took 10 minutes less to demolish American Catherine Bellis 6-1, 6-1.

Svitolina, 23, started the week as world number six but would finish it as number four if she wins the tournament. She won five tournaments in 2017 and goes into the Australian Open as a serious contender for the year’s first Grand Slam.

She had a tough opening round win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro but was relatively untroubled against world number 44 Konjuh.

Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, the 2012 champion, moved into the last eight with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko. Once ranked as high as 15th in the world, Kanepi is on the comeback trail after injury forced her out of the game in June 2016 for just over a year.

She reached last year’s US Open as a qualifier and had to qualify in Brisbane as well. But her powerful serve proved too much for Tsurenko and she will now face Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich booked a quarter-final against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet when she beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

Earlier, Australian third seed Nick Kyrgios overcame a leg injury to reach the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International on Wednesday as fourth seed Milos Raonic was bundled out by wildcard Alex De Minaur.

Kyrgios came back from losing the first set to fellow Australian Matthew Ebden to win 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, finishing the match with his leg heavily strapped.

In the late match on Pat Rafter Arena, 18-year-old De Minaur had the biggest win of his career when he stunned former champion Raonic 6-4, 6-4.

Wozniacki in last four

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the quarterfinals of the ASB Tennis Classic on Wednesday, beating Petra Martic of Croatia 6-2, 6-2.

After taking 58 minutes to beat American Madison Brengle in her first-round match Tuesday, Wozniacki needed only 53 minutes to beat unseeded Martic, despite dropping her serve in the first game of the second set.

Wozniacki served strongly to take early control, winning 89 percent of points on first serve and putting 90th-ranked Martic under pressure with deep groundstrokes which forced errors.

Wozniacki broke Martic’s serve in the second and eighth games to take the first set in 24 minutes. She quickly recovered after dropping serve to open the second set, breaking back in the fourth and sixth games.

Second-seed Julia Goerges beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 4-0, third-seeded Barbora Strycova beat Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-2 and Polona Herzog had a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kirsten Flipkens. Strycova took more than three hours to beat Italy’s Sara Errani in her first-round match and needed almost 2-1/2 hours to move past Larsson.

Halep remains on top

Simona Halep guaranteed top seeding for this month’s Australian Open after battling back from a set down to defeat Duan Yingying 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in Shenzhen on Wednesday.

The Romanian is now assured to remain world number one ahead of Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza for the season’s first Grand Slam which begins in Melbourne on Jan.15.

Looking for a first victory over a top 10 player and cheered on by her home fans, the powerful world number 91 from China blasted her way to the first set without conceding a single break point.


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