Hong Kong: World No. 1 Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Hong Kong Open in the quarter-finals on Friday, the German slumping to a shock 6-3 6-1 defeat to Australia’s Daria Gavrilova at Victoria Park.
Kerber, who also suffered a surprise loss to Elina Svitolina in the round of 16 at last week’s China Open, committed six double faults and struggled on serve as her 38th-ranked opponent secured victory in an hour and 14 minutes.
Moscow-born Gavrilova fired five aces against the German as the 22-year-old continues her quest for a first WTA singles title, and she will next face Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the final.
Her victory over Kerber, who surged to the top of the rankings after winning the Australian and US Open titles this year as well as reaching the Wimbledon final, was her first against the German Olympic silver medallist in six meetings.
Mladenovic defeated American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 6-3 7-6(3) in the second quarter-final. Jelena Jankovic is the defending champion and the Serb faces another Frenchwoman, Alize Cornet, in a last eight encounter later on Friday.
Meanwhile, world No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova survived a quarter-final scare against lowly Naomi Osaka of Japan at the Tianjin Open on Friday, scraping through in a deciding set tiebreak.
The Russian second seed lost the first set before recovering, but still needed an hour and 55 minutes against the world No. 42 before prevailing 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
Her reward is a semi-final place against American Alison Riske, whose victory at the 2014 Tianjin Open remains her only WTA Tour win, but who continued her quest for a repeat by beating home player Han Xinyun 6-3, 6-3.
Kuznetsova is now hot favourite for the title, after Polish top seed Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew from the tournament with a thigh injury after her quarter-final on Thursday.
“It’s the end of the season — I guess everyone is struggling with something,” the world No. 3 said, adding that she decided to pull out to give herself the best chance of recovering before the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month.
Her decision gave China’s Peng Shuai a walkover into Saturday’s semi-final, where she will face Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, who beat Puerto Rican fifth seed Monica Puig 6-4, 6-3.