Wuhan, September 27: Wang Qiang remains on course to collect a hat-trick of titles in China as Ashleigh Barty made sure at least one seed made it through to the semi-finals of the Wuhan Open. Having already triumphed in Nanchang and Guangzhou this year, Wang extended her winning streak on home soil to 14 matches by brushing aside Monica Puig 6-3 6-1.
She will next face Anett Kontaveit, who ended qualifier Katerina Siniakova's impressive run in the tournament by triumphing in the final match on court on Thursday.
In the other half of the draw, Barty - the solitary seed appearing in the last eight - came through a see-saw contest with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to remain on course to go one better than last year's final defeat.
Aryna Sabalenka stands in her way next, the in-form 20-year-old beating Dominika Cibulkova 7-5 6-3.
Semifinals set @wuhanopentennis:
Ashleigh Barty vs. Aryna Sabalenka
Anett Kontaveit vs. Wang Qiang— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 27, 2018
There is seemingly no place like home for Wang, who needed just 67 minutes to defeat Puig in a match short in duration but full of action.
Puig had ended second seed Caroline Wozniacki's hopes of glory in the previous round but the Puerto Rican failed to take her chances against the world number 34, converting just two of the nine break-point opportunities that came her way
Wang, in contrast, was ruthless, recording six breaks of serve to triumph as she punished her opponent's 37 unforced errors.
Kontaveit, meanwhile, reached her third semi-final of the season by seeing off Siniakova, who appeared jaded following her exploits in seeing off big names Caroline Garcia and Garbine Muguruza in her last two outings.
BARTY ON TRACK
While the rest of the seeds have already crashed out, Barty showed her fighting qualities to stay alive in the tournament with a 6-2 5-7 6-4 victory.
The Australian is through to the last four for a second successive year, though she had to come back from a break down in the decider to finally get the better of Russian Pavlyuchenkova.
"It's just nice to be able to back up a result from last year. It's obviously always in the back of your mind, worrying - not worrying about, but knowing you've played here well before gives you that extra confidence to come out and play freely," Barty - who lost to Garcia in the 2017 final - told the WTA's website.
"I've been able to do that in my last couple of matches a little bit better, and I'm certainly happy to be in another semi-final."
Barty's reward for beating Pavlyuchenkova is a clash with Sabalenka, the Belarusian who continued her strong finish to 2018 by defeating Cibulkova in straight sets.