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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, October 6, 2016

Playing the best brings out the best in Elina Svitolina.

The 16th-seeded Svitolina saved nine of 11 break points, toppling top-ranked Angelique Kerber, 6-3, 7-5, to advance to the Beijing quarterfinals.

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It was Svitolina's second straight-sets win over a reigning world No. 1 this season. Svitolina swept then top-ranked Serena Williams, 6-4, 6-3, at the Rio Olympics in August.

Svitolina said her secret to success against the best is simple: Don't dwell on it.

“If you realize you’re playing against world No. 1, then of course it’s stuck on your mind," Svitolina said. "The main thing is to just stay in the moment to think about the plan about the match. What is my next step, next action.”

Reigning Australian Open and US Open champion Kerber said she played with a leg injury that hindered her movement, but credited Svitolina for her consistency as a key to the match.

"This morning when I was practicing, I was feeling it a little bit more," Kerber said of her injury. "I think it’s nothing serious but still I know I have to move very well to play my game, but I couldn’t play it like I play it.

“She was moving good. She brings a lot of balls back. I think that was the key of why she beats me at the end.”

Svitolina advanced to her sixth quarterfinal of the season where she will face 22-year-old Daria Gavrilova.

The 49th-ranked Australian dispatched Caroline Garcia, 6-4, 6-3. Gavrilova has beaten Svitolina in two of their three meetings, including victories in Cincinnati and Madrid this season.

Seeds were scattered as two other high-profile players fell from the field.

Zhang Shuai won six straight games dismissing fourth-seeded Simona Halep, 6-0, 6-3, to become the first Chinese quarterfinalist at the China Open since Li Na in 2013.

Zhang knocked Halep out of the Australian Open opening-round, 6-4, 6-3, in January and played with the same sense of purpose today picking the Romanian apart in 58 minutes.

Playing clean tennis, Zhang hit nine winners against just three unforced errors. She did not commit an error breezing through the first set in 18 minutes. In contrast, Halep hit 12 winners and 20 more errors than her opponent.

"I tried to be more aggressive," Zhang said. "I played really well. I played really good start first set and I tried to improve better and better.

"I don't want to stop now. I want to keep going and I'm really looking forward to the next match."

Zhang will play Johanna Konta for a semifinal spot.

The 11th-seeded Briton edged US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2). Konta broke serve four times beating the fifth-seeded Czech for the first time in six meetings.

Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska repelled good friend Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-1, in 68 minutes. It was their third meeting of this Asian swing: Wozniacki rallied for a three-set win in the Tokyo semifinals before Radwanska responded with a 6-4, 6-2 win in Wuhan last week.

 

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