Garbine Muguruza shrugged off a rain delay to sweep through to the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open Wednesday in confident style.
The former Wimbledon and French Open champion brushed aside Romania’s Ana Bogdan with the loss of only three games to underline her status as one of the tournament favourites.
Torrential downpours delayed the start of play by more than four hours and the world number 13 did not come out on court until 10.21 pm, but said she had remained focused on the game during the extended build-up.
“It really was a long day, a long wait, at some point I thought I was maybe not going to play,” said the relieved fourth seed, after winning 6-2, 6-1.
“I think you have to think you’re going to play, the moment you think you’re not going to play you relax too much and it’s harder to connect.”
Earlier, eighth seed Alize Cornet went down to Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum after a drama-filled clash which saw both players struggle to hold their serve.
The France world number 44 – who lost in a third-set tiebreak after almost three hours on court – said: “It was a crazy match, the scenario was turning around all the time, in the first set we couldn’t keep our serves, in the second we couldn’t break.”
Kristina Kucova, who caused an upset Monday after she knocked out Jelena Ostapenko, glided through her match with Viktoriya Tomova 6-1, 6-0.
“I’m very happy with the wins and it gives me a lot of confidence,” Kucova said.
“It was very difficult because we were supposed to play at 3pm, and every half an hour the supervisor postponed it. We didn’t know how long it would rain but it was the same conditions for both of us.”
‘A good future’
China’s leading ladies will be bidding to join Muguruza in the quarter-finals when they play Thursday.
Wang Qiang, 26, and Zhang Shuai, 29, said confidence was now growing among Chinese players after a quiet spell since trailblazer Li Na, a two-time major-winner, retired in 2014.
The pair added that Li’s shining example and the explosion of tournaments in China after her Grand Slam wins had triggered the emergence of a new generation of players.
Wang Qiang, ranked 24th, and 40th-placed Zhang head a list of four Chinese players in the current top 100, and there are 11 in the top 200 including 17-year-old US Open junior champion Wang Xiyu.
“Li Na has given us all a lot of hope,” Zhang said.
“When she won the Grand Slams I think more people decided to try tennis and try to believe in themselves.”
She added: “Now we have so many tournaments in China I think a lot of young players have more opportunities to make a higher ranking.”
Zhang, who turned professional in 2006, said the game was now a big hit among Chinese fans. China has seven WTA Tour-level tournaments this year.
“For sure it’s more popular than it was five years ago because unlike with other sports, almost every week there is a big tournament,” she said.
Wang Qiang, seeded sixth in Hong Kong, said Li’s achievements stood as a “goal” for her career, and had kick-started the development of tennis in China.
“Other players are now doing really well so I think China has a good future,” she said.