(Reuters) - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova ended the dream run of France’s Caroline Garcia with a clinical performance to reach the semi-finals of the Wuhan Open on Thursday.
Kvitova, the highest seed standing at the hard court tournament after the exits of top two seeds Serena Williams and Romanian Simona Halep, defeated Garcia 6-3 6-4 in the $2.4 million inaugural WTA event.
The 24-year-old Czech broke Garcia, ranked 49 in the world, once in each set to win the quarter-final.
Garcia, 20, accounted for former world number one Venus Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska enroute to the last eight in the tournament but too many unforced errors hurt her on Thursday.
“I know Garcia had a great week here, that she beat Venus and Aga 7-6 in the third. You always have to be prepared for a fight,” Kvitova said.
”I knew that she can play really well, and that she can serve well and play very aggressively from the baseline, so I knew that I had to be ready for her.
“It was quite humid and hot today, and I was really sweating a lot, but the court feels faster, which is something that probably suits my game a lot. I‘m serving well, so that’s helpful too.”
The victory also kept twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova on course for qualifying for the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.
Kvitova will become the fourth player to qualify for the eight-woman season-ending championships if she triumphs in Wuhan. Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep have already booked their places.
In the semi-finals, Kvitova takes on Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina who beat seventh seed Angelique Kerber, currently 10th in the race for Singapore, 6-4 7-6(3).
Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki also boosted their Singapore qualification hopes.
Sixth seed Bouchard, eighth in the Singapore race with 3901 points at the start of the week, marched into the semi-finals with a 6-3 7-5 win against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
She will next face Wozniacki, who is ninth in the race and trails Bouchard by just 106 points. The Dane had to work hard before beating Swiss Timea Bacsinszky 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the last match on center court.
With Li Na having retired from tennis despite standing seventh in the Singapore race, Wozniacki currently occupies the final qualification place for the season finale.
WTA Road to Singapore standings (*top eight qualify after taking China’s Li out of equation)
1. Serena Williams 6931 (qualified)
2. Maria Sharapova 5575 (qualified)
3. Simona Halep 5189 (qualified)
4. Agnieszka Radwanska 4377
5. Ana Ivanovic 4060
6. Petra Kvitova 4049
7. Li Na 3970 (retired) *
8. Eugenie Bouchard 3901
9. Caroline Wozniacki 3795
10. Angelique Kerber 3370
11. Dominika Cibulkova 2909
12. Ekaterina Makarova 2900
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly/Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Pritha Sarkar