Halep topples Sharapova, Ostapenko seals Singapore slot

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Simona Halep hailed one of her best performances after he secured a landmark victory over Maria Sharapova, while Jelena Ostapenko qualified for the WTA Finals on Wednesday at the China Open.

An epic defeat to Sharapova in the first round of the US Open was the latest frustration in a stop-start 2017 for Halep, who has just one title to her name this year and has spurned three chances to scale the WTA Rankings.

The world number one spot is once again up for grabs if the Romanian can keep her game together in Beijing, and she looked up for the challenge by racing to a 6-2 6-2 victory.

Defeat for Sharapova continues her tentative return to the sport after 15 months suspended for a doping violation, the Russian left to count the cost of an error-strewn display.


HALEP BRINGS THE HEAT

While Sharapova's unforced error count read 39, Halep deserved immense credit for stretching out rallies as she beat the former world number one for the first time in eight career meetings.

"It was a great match, I think I played my best tennis against her," Halep told WTA Insider. "I served pretty well, and the work that I did after the US Open, I could see it on court today.

"I'm really happy that I could do this. It's my first victory against her and I just want to enjoy the moment." 

Halep revealed how a return to the practice courts after her last defeat to Sharapova helped inspire this turnaround.

She said: "I stayed longer on court, I practiced more, I practiced my serve more. I saw if I'm focused and I'm confident, I can hit the maximum that I can. I was very consistent today, there with confidence and just hitting the ball."

Daria Kasatkina awaits the second seed in the quarter-finals after she upset defending champion Agnieszka Radwasnka 4-6 7-5 6-2.


OSTAPENKO SEALS SINGAPORE SLOT

French Open champion Ostapenko has enjoyed a breakthrough 2017 and will end it by making her maiden outing at the season-ending extravaganza.

The Latvian is the seventh player to make it to Singapore, securing her spot with a 6-3 7-5 win over Sam Stosur.

"It was a tough match - Sam was playing pretty well, and it was hard to win the second set, but in general I'm happy with the way I played and happy to be in the third round," Ostapenko said afterwards.

"I'm extremely happy to qualify for my very first WTA Finals. I've had a great season and hope I can continue to play my best tennis in front of all the fans in Singapore."

Peng Shuai beat Monica Niculescu to book a quarter-final meeting with Ostapenko.


GARCIA & BARTY FORTUNES DIFFER AGAIN

Carline Garcia defeated of Ashleigh Barty in the Wuhan Open final and the Frenchwoman again had the better of it on Wednesday.

Garcia advanced to a quarter-final with French compatriot Alize Cornet by beating Elise Mertens in straight sets.

Barty, on the other hand, is packing her bags. The Australian was beaten 6-4 6-2 as Elina Svitolina moved into the third round, where Elena Vesnina awaits.