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By Adrianna Outlaw | Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Garbine Muguruza

Garbiñe Muguruza withstood Magda Linette, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, setting up a Wuhan quarterfinal vs. Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Photo credit: Toray Pan Pacific Open Facebook

Garbiñe Muguruza took a crucial step toward retaining her world No. 1 ranking.

The Wimbledon winner will need to beat the reigning Roland Garros champion to stay at the top.

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Muguruza denied Polish qualifier Magda Linette, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, to set up a Wuhan Open quarterfinal vs. Jelena Ostapenko in a battle of current and former French Open champions.

"It's gonna be difficult," Muguruza said of facing Ostapenko. "She's playing very good. I'm going to give it everything I can."

The eighth-seeded Ostapenko spoiled Monica Puig’s 24th birthday with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory in one hour, 45 minutes.

It is the seventh straight win for Ostapenko, who has won seven of her last eight three-set matches.

The 10th-ranked Latvian served just 42 percent and hit 10 aces against 11 double faults.

The 2015 Wuhan runner-up, Muguruza will maintain her hold the top spot if she beats Ostapenko and reaches her eighth semifinal of the season.

The 23-year-old Spaniard has won both prior meetings with Ostapenko—both contested on Rome’s red clay—including at three-set win earlier this season.

Ashleigh Barty continued her strong surge defeating ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

The 37th-ranked Aussie scored her fifth Top 20 win of the season one round after she edged fifth-seeded Briton Johanna Konta, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3).

Barty will face Karolina Pliskova for a semifinal spot.

The third-seeded Czech crushed 55th-ranked Chinese Qiang Wang, 6-2, 6-1, in what she called one of her best performances of the season. 

If Muguruza loses in the quarterfinals, Pliskova has a shot to surpass her and regain the top spot she held for eight weeks.

Pliskova and Barty have split two prior meetings—both on Nottingham’s grass—with three of the five sets they’ve played decided in tie breaks.

Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari surprised No. 16-seeded Elena Vesnina, 7-6 (6), 7-5, one round after she toppled fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.

The 80th-ranked Sakkari will play either Alize Cornet or Varvara Lepchenko in the quarterfinals.

The 22-year-old Sakkari is aiming for her first semifinal of the season.


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