Home favourite Zheng Saisai reached the semi-finals of the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai despite losing her final group match against fifth seed Petra Martic.
Zheng went through in dramatic fashion after winning the seven games she required in a 6-4 6-3 defeat.
But it could have been different if Martic had converted one of two break points at 4-2 in the final set, which would have seen her have the chance to serve for the match and go through to the knock-out stages instead by losing six games or less.
Zheng said on wtatennis.com: “This is the first time I have had this experience. Actually, I knew if I won a set, I for sure would be in, but I didn’t know exactly how many games.
“I was pretty tight because I knew I didn’t need to win the match, so I was like scared a little bit. It’s really the first time the feeling how I played – very nervous.””
Aryna Sabalenka edged out her doubles partner Elise Mertens 6-4 3-6 7-5 to join Zheng in the semi-finals.
Both players knew a victory would be enough to book their place in the final four and the Belarusian prevailed after a high-quality encounter lasting two hours and 20 minutes.
In the semi-finals Sabalenka will face Karolina Muchova, who came through a gruelling three-set tie of her own to beat second seed Sofia Kenin 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Zheng will face top seed Kiki Bertens, who had already secured her place in the last four.
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