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By Tennis Now | Monday, September 25, 2017

Ash Barty

Ashleigh Barty edged Johanna Konta, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3), sending the fifth seed to her fourth straight loss in Wuhan.

Photo credit: Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open Facebook

Johanna Konta served for the match, but Ashleigh Barty answered with a late burst to extend the Briton’s misery.

In a topsy-turvy thriller, Barty beat Konta, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (5), bursting into the Wuhan Open third round.

Watch: Europe Wins Laver Cup

Shuai Peng followed Barty's upset with a stunning 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3) victory over defending champion Petra Kvitova that spanned three hours, 34 minutes. 

It was Peng's first win in eight career meetings with Kvitova, who had won 14 of their prior 16 sets, including eight consecutive sets. 

The 24th-ranked Chinese will play Olympic gold medal champion Monica Puig in round two. Puig was a 6-0, 6-7 (0), 6-4 victor over hard-hitting German Mona Barthel.

The fifth-seeded Konta suffered her fourth straight loss. Konta hasn’t won a match since defeating 11th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova in the Cincinnati round of 16 last month.

It was Barty’s second Top 10 win in seven weeks. Barty toppled world No. 9 Venus Williams, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, in Cincinnati last month.

The 21-year-old Aussie burst out of the blocks winning seven straight games.

In the second set, Konta smacked a crosscourt forehand into the corner breaking for 4-3—her first lead of the match.

Striking with more accuracy, Konta began taking the initiative in rallies sometimes forcing Barty to play off her back foot. Konta cruised through a love hold to take the second set then embarked on a bathroom break.

Stepping into the court, Konta began winning the battle of court positioning and taking time away from her opponent. The Wimbledon semifinalist broke for 2-1 and drew a series of errors from Barty backing up the break for 3-1.

Konta served for the match at 5-4, but grew tentative. Barty banged a forehand winner crosscourt for break point before Konta badly botched a mid-court smash gifting the break back.

A twisting second serve helped Barty hold for 6-5 after a deuce test.

Though Konta opened the tie break with a crisp forehand drive down the line, Barty roared back on a four-point run. Barty bolted her eighth ace down the middle for 4-1.

Following a forehand slice forward, the world No. 37 snapped off a smash for three match points. A mis-hit backhand return floated over the net like a drop shot as Barty closed in two hours, 19 minutes.

The first round was the final stop for US Open champion Sloane Stephens, Flushing Meadows finalist Madison Keys and 2016 US Open champion Angelique Kerber.

Caroline Garcia hit seven aces in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 decision over the 12th-seeded Kerber.

The 20th-ranked Garcia will play American qualifier Christina McHale in round two. McHale swept Roberta Vinci, 6-4, 6-4.

Qiang Wang swept Stephens, 6-2, 6-2. Wang will face Sorana Cirstea, a 6-3, 6-3, victor over Chinese wild card Yafan Wang.

In an all-American match, 76th-ranked Varvara Lepchenko surprised the 10th-seeded Keys, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who withdrew from Tokyo last week, returned with a 6-4, 7-5, decision over Magdalena Rybarikova, who was her own worst enemy serving 43 percent and clanking 10 double faults.

Radwanska will take on Julia Goerges in round two. Goerges grinded out a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 win over Australia’s Daria Gavrilova. Radwanska has won three of five meetings with Goerges, who was a 6-4, 6-4, in their most recent encounter in Cincinnati last month.

Russian Daria Kastakina outlasted Alison Riske, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.

The 31st-ranked Kastakina earned a second-round date with second-seeded Simona Halep.


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