Ashleigh Barty showed Carolina Garcia no mercy when they met in the WTA Elite Trophy tennis tournament – but now she owes the Frenchwoman a debt of gratitude.
The Australian expected her season to be over despite beating Garcia in Zhuhai on Thursday night but the 22-year-old ended up advancing as the Orchid Group’s semi-finalist 24 hours later.
Garcia recovered from a back injury that hampered her performance against Barty to stun world No.12 Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-4 on Friday.
The game aggregates from round-robin play ultimately left world No.19-ranked Barty as the only member of the trio to have a positive differential.
Her 6-3 6-4 victory over Garcia was crucial because it meant she recorded 20 game wins to 19 to book her second straight appearance in the Elite Trophy semis.
Belarusian Sabalenka, who beat Barty 6-4 6-4 in the group opener, was all square at 20-20 while Garcia also exited with 19 wins and 20 losses.
Barty now meets defending champion Julia Goerges, who was two points from elimination before the German recovered to clinch her final Rose Group clash with Belgium’s Elise Mertens 6-2 7-6 (7-5).
Garbine Muguruza will face Madison Keys in Saturday’s other semi-final after winning her Camellia Group showdown with Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (4) 6-2 7-6 (1).
The Spaniard, a two-time grand slam champion, saved three match points and eight of 12 break points against her second-seeded opponent.
Keys made the final four despite losing to Wang Qiang 1-6 6-3 6-1. The American needed to win only one set to advance from the Azalea Group.