Simona Halep guaranteed top seeding for this month’s Australian Open after battling back from a set down to defeat Duan Yingying 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in Shenzhen on Wednesday.
The Romanian is now assured to remain world No 1 ahead of Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza for the season’s first Grand Slam which begins in Melbourne on January 15.
Looking for a first victory over a top 10 player and cheered on by her home fans, the powerful world No 91 from China blasted her way to the first set without conceding a single break point.
Halep roared back, dropping just three more games to reach the quarter-finals of the WTA Tour event that she won in 2015 after an hour and 37 minutes of action.
“I knew that she’s playing hard and hitting every ball, so I knew that I had to be very strong in my legs,” Halep said after the match in the southern Chinese city that borders Hong Kong.
“After the first set, I knew I had to find the rhythm a little bit, to stay closer to the baseline and just open the court better, which I did very well.
“It was not easy, even though the scores were 6-1, 6-2. It was a very tough match.”
Halep, who posted 21 winners to just 13 unforced errors, will next face another big hitter in teenage sensation Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus.