QUEENSLANDER Ash Barty has snatched the biggest tennis scalp of her breakout year, blunting the power of world No.4 Karolina Pliskova in the WTA Wuhan quarter-finals.
Barty won a third match over a top-15 player in as many rounds in a big week of Chinese takeaways, closing out a 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-2) win over Pliskova.
The 21-year-old from Ipswich will play in tonight's semi-finals (from 7.30pm) against French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko.
Barty stood toe to with another taller, higher-ranked opponent in familiar fashion, but most notably yesterday underlined her tenacity and composure by overcoming the disappointed of having failed to covert three match points on her own service game at 5-4 in the third set.
The Queensland right-hander will next week be ranked in the top-30 for the first time, after starting the week at No.37.
Sixteen months since her return to the WTA Tour after a break from the circuit in which she also played a season of Big Bash cricket, she will give Australia a second top-30 player in year-end rankings as she has few ranking points to defend.
Barty started the week at No.37.
Barty is by now immune to getting vertigo against leading players, having beaten in the previous two rounds Poland's world No.13 Agnieszka Radwanska and Britain's world No.7 Johanna Konta, also in three-set battles.
She also upset Muguruza and a second Grand Slam winner, Venus Williams, in events June.
"I played Karolina a couple of times before and been close to a win both times,'' Barty told reporters in Wuhan.
"It was going to be hard to break her serve, but I returned much better in the second and third sets.
"It's been an amazing season. I've been able to mentally refresh myself last year and get back to the tour. "It's been nice to get back into some tennis, match after match, and get on a little bit of a roll.''
The singles final is played tomorrow, when she would otherwise be tuning in for a streaming feed of her AFL team Richmond's first grand final appearance while she has been alive.
Pliskova, who was the top-ranked woman at the start of the month, won the Brisbane International in dominant style last summer, the first of three WTA titles for a year which nevertheless did not bring the Czech a first Grand Slam title as many judges expected.
Barty will play in next week's richer WTA event in Beijing before she and doubles partner Casey Dellacqua contest the year-end WTA championships in Singapore.
"For Casey and I making the championships would be a really good finish to the year and we aren't there yet. A few more tournaments at the end of the year and we'll assess what the goals are.
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