Defending champion Caroline Garcia was dumped out of the China Open after squandering an early lead against Aryna Sabalenka.
Sabalenka, who has been one of the breakout stars of the year on the WTA Tour, progressed 5-7 7-6 6-0 and remains on course for back-to-back titles in China following last week’s success at the Wuhan Open.
“I was just like, Aryna, c’mon. Really nothing to lose. You’re down 5-7, 2-5. Just try to do your best,” Sabalenka recalled in her press conference.
“It’s all that you need at the moment.
“When I was down 5-2, there was nothing to lose and I start to play tennis.
“I didn’t think about, like, how good I am or just like didn’t want to put the ball totally in the line. Doesn’t matter how, just put the ball in and try to win every point.
“I was really lucky that I won second set. After that I don’t know what happened with her, but she didn’t run that well like the first and second set.
“She didn’t put the ball in like before. But before third set she played really unbelievable tennis, I couldn’t do anything.
“I didn’t have my serve. I don’t know what happened. She played really well. At the moment I’m just so happy that I won second set. Third set, I was lucky she didn’t play.”
The Belarusian will face home favourite Wang Qiang in the quarter-finals in after she upset seventh seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-4.
— Tennis365 (@T365Official) October 4, 2018
Angelique Kerber, the third seed, also suffered a surprise defeat, with the Wimbledon champion losing 6-1 2-6 6-0 to Zhang Shuai.
Zhang’s reward is a last-eight meeting with US Open champion Naomi Osaka. Osaka was far too good for German Julia Goerges, easing to a 6-1 6-2 win in just over an hour.
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