World No 1 Angelique Kerber reaches Hong Kong Open last eight while Venus Williams crashes out to Alize Cornet
German overcomes rain delay to beat American Louisa Chirico and is joined in the quarter-finals by Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki
Angelique Kerber bolted into the quarter-finals of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Thursday, but there was despair for second seed and seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams at Victoria Park.
Kerber was a day late but emphatic in finishing off the challenge of American Louisa Chirico 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in just under 30 minutes in their rain-delayed encounter but crowd favourite Williams, 36, was beaten 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 by unseeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
World number one Kerber and her American opponent were 100 minutes into their match on Wednesday night when the heavy rain finally forced organisers to call it a day and endeavour to finish the match on Thursday.
Watch: Angelique Kerber in action against Louisa Chirico
Kerber was clearly eager to make up for the lost time as she bewildered her 20-year-old rival with a series of surgical shots to seal the match.
“It’s always not easy when the match is suspended, especially when you have so much time between,” said Kerber. “But I’m happy with my performance today and that I closed it up very fast.”
Watch: Angelique Kerber talk about being world number one
The German will now meet Australian Daria Gavrilova in the quarter-finals on Friday, meaning she will have played three times in three days with potential matches to come on Saturday and Sunday.
“It doesn’t affect how I prepare. It’s not the first time that it’s happened. It’s better than a practice session,” she said. “Having to go out play a game and having to be focused – it’s always a challenge and it’s good to have a few more games to play today before the next match.”
Continuing with the score at 2-1 in the third set, the double grand slam champion was faultless and exhibited the form that has taken her to the top of the world rankings this season.
Earlier in the day, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki continued her own strong recent form with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Great Britain’s Heather Watson to set up a quarter-final meeting with China’s Wang Qiang.
After zooming in to a 2-0 lead, Watson was a relative bystander for the remainder of the opener as the Dane ripped in four straight games before finishing off the set.
Watch: Caroline Wozniacki overcome Heather Watson at Victoria Park
As the second set wore on the 24-year-old Britain was repeatedly failed by her first serve, which she landed just 54 per cent of the time, as some sloppy play crept into her game.
“It was nice to get the win today,” said Wozniacki. “It wasn’t easy but I was happy to get the win for sure.”
The world number 22 will be joined in the last eight by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who registered a surprise 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over sixth-seeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. Doubles specialist Mattek-Sands was aided in no small part by a total of 11 double-faults from the erratic Garcia.
“I’ve played Caroline [Garcia] a few times. I know she’s an aggressive player,” said Mattek-Sands. “I knew I had to play well to beat her.
“I played her last year and lost, so it’s nice to get the win today.”
There was a better result for fellow Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, who eased past Japan’s Nao Hibino 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.
Cornet’s victory over Williams sets up a mouthwatering quarter-final clash against defending champion Jelena Jankovic.
The rains returned midway through the match threatening to derail what had been an engrossing contest. Luckily they held off and the result was just a ten-minute delay before the duel continued.