Elena Rybakina continued her strong start to 2020 by winning the Hobart International title on Saturday.

The Kazakh, 20, proved too good for Zhang Shuai 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 to claim her second WTA Tour crown.

Rybakina is in impressive form to begin the year, having also reached the final in Shenzhen this month.

She delivered in the decider this time, converting all three break points she created on her way to victory in one hour, 33 minutes.

Rybakina will hope to carry her good form into the Australian Open, facing Bernarda Pera in the opening round.

Zhang Shuai's bid for a third Guangzhou Open crown was ended by Viktorija Golubic in Thursday's quarter-final.

The two-time champion, whose only WTA Tour singles titles have come at this event, came up short as Golubic ran out a 6-3 3-6 6-4 winner.

Sofia Kenin, another seed, staged a remarkable first-set turnaround to ensure she remained in the competition.

The American trailed 5-2 in the opener but rallied to defeat Jasmine Paolini 7-5 6-1.

Former US Open winner Sam Stosur came through 6-2 7-6 (7-1) against Nina Stojanovic, while Anna Blinkova defeated Marie Bouzkova, who had ousted Elina Svitolina.

At the Korea Open, Priscilla Hon stunned Australian compatriot and 2018 runner-up Ajla Tomljanovic in a 6-3 5-7 6-1 win.

The 21-year-old qualifier was playing Tomljanovic for the first time.

Karolina Muchova eased past Timea Babos, as Paula Badosa saw off Patricia Maria Tig.

Wang Yafan exited the Jiangxi Open at the first hurdle as Nina Stojanovic caused the first upset of the tournament.

Second seed Wang was overpowered in 80 minutes on Tuesday, succumbing 6-2 6-4 to Stojanovic, who has reached the quarter-finals in each of her two main draw appearances in 2019.

Stojanovic lost out to Taylor Townsend – who would go on to beat Wimbledon champion Simona Halep en route to the fourth round – in US Open qualification but had too much power for her opponent this time around.

Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, awaits Stojanovic in round two after the Australian overcame compatriot Arina Rodionova 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

While Wang heads home early, there was no such trouble for top seed Zhang Shuai, as the world number 32 breezed past Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets to set up a contest with Zhu Lin in round two. 

Seeds Elena Rybakina and Kristyna Pliskova both progressed and will meet Wang Xinyu and Peng Shuai respectively, with qualifier Jana Fett completing the round-two line-up.

In Hiroshima, first-round action at the Japan Women's Open saw top seed and defending champion Hsieh Su-wei fend off Risa Ozaki, securing a hard-earned 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory.

"I was thinking there would be a lot of pressure as the defending champion," Hsieh said. "I was really relaxed and tried to enjoy the match, but the first match is never easy, I was trying to find my rhythm."

Though fourth seed Anastasia Potapova fell 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 to Zoe Hives, home hopes Kurumi Nara and Misaki Doi made winning starts.

Nara's win was particularly impressive, the world number 182 sinking the fifth seed Tatjana Maria 6-4 6-4.

Simona Halep says she has a new-found love for grass after beating Zhang Shuai to move into the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

Halep sealed her place in the last four for only the second time at the All England Club with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 victory on Tuesday.

Elina Svitolina stands in the way of the 2018 French Open champion and a first final at SW19.

Seventh seed Halep revealed she feels much more at home on a surface on which she has struggled in the past.

Asked what she had learned from a last-four defeat to Eugenie Bouchard five years ago, the former world number one said: "I'm a different person. Everything changed.

"I have a lot of experience now. I'm more confident. I love grass. It's the first time I have said that.

"I think it's a big challenge for me, the next match. But I will take it like I took every match since I'm here. I'm relaxed. I'm happy. I'm motivated to win."

Quizzed about her love of the surface, she said: "I started to feel more comfortable on the court. I didn't slide at all this tournament. Hopefully, I will be the same in the next match.

"It's a little bit dangerous when you play on grass because the feet are not really as stable as you are on a hard court or clay court. That's why I prefer those surfaces.

"But now I started to feel it, to have it in my hands, to have it in my legs, and also in my mind, which is very important."

Simona Halep came through a gripping first-set examination to see off China's Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 and book a place in the semi-finals of Wimbledon for the first time since 2014.

Halep, the highest-ranked player left in the draw, is chasing a second career grand slam but had to weather a considerable storm against outsider Zhang.

A break down, the world number seven escaped a marathon sixth game to halt Zhang's momentum before stealing the opener on a tie-break.

After those absorbing first 58 minutes, the second set was a more serene affair and Halep will face either Elina Svitolina or Karolina Muchova as she bids to reach a maiden final at the All England Club.

Zhang had never won a main draw match at Wimbledon until this year but, having already seen off seeds Caroline Garcia and Caroline Wozniacki, raced into a 3-0 lead in just over 10 minutes on Number One Court.

A pinpoint backhand into the back-right corner was the jewel in the 30-year-old's early break as her powerful, flat groundstrokes exuded composure and authority.

Halep's forehand was misfiring, and she had to negotiate a considerable crisis at 1-4, scrambling to save four break points and eventually hold.

The high-class and gruelling rallies required to do so appeared to play the 2018 French Open champion into form and Zhang coughed up a break in the next game with a double fault.

The set remained on serve from that point and Halep managed to keep her opponent's relentless attacks at arm's length to take the breaker 7-4.

If the Romanian star had a sense the storm had passed, it was confirmed when Zhang sent a tame forehand into the net to be broken for 3-1.

Halep consolidated with a hold to love and the world number 50 was predictably unable to relocate her sparkling earlier form.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Simona Halep [7] bt. Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Halep - 17/13
Zhang - 22/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Halep - 1/1
Zhang - 1/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Halep - 3/6
Zhang - 1/5

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Halep - 76
Zhang - 71

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Halep - 72/44
Zhang - 67/41

TOTAL POINTS
Halep - 74
Zhang - 61

World number one Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova crashed out as the women's quarter-final draw opened up at Wimbledon.

Barty went down 3-6 6-2 6-3 in a compelling contest against Alison Riske on No. 2 Court, while Czech Republic's third seed Pliskova went down to compatriot Karolina Muchova 4-6 7-5 13-11 in an epic encounter.

Riske will face Serena Williams – a 6-2 6-2 winner over Carla Suarez Navarro - in an all-American quarter but 15-year-old sensation Cori Gauff had her superb run at SW19 ended by Simona Halep in straight sets.

Halep is now the highest seed left in the draw after Britain's Johanna Konta kept home interest alive with a thrilling 4-6 6-2 6-4 win over world number six Petra Kvitova.
 

BARTY'S HOT STREAK COMES TO AN END

French Open champion Barty had not lost for two months heading into her fourth-round match but had no complaints as Riske turned in a stirring display.

"Overall I didn't play a poor match. When I needed to, when the big moments were there, Alison played better," she said. "Tough one to swallow but I lost to a better player."

Riske is relishing her reward of a showdown with Williams, who she has partnered in Fed Cup doubles.

"I think it's super exciting. I played doubles with Serena, but never played against her. It will be an interesting match," she said.

"I'm ready for a war. She's the greatest athlete I think that's ever been on the women's side. It's going to be a huge challenge."

GAUFF EXIT TOUGH TO STOMACH

Already a favourite at the All England Club, Gauff was unable to overturn the odds once more against the former world number one Halep.

The youngster seemed to be hindered by illness and called for the doctor in the second set.

"I wasn't feeling 100 per cent. I still tried my best. Simona played really well," she said after losing 6-3 6-3.

"I learned a lot. I learned how to play in front of a big crowd. I learned what it was like to be under pressure. I'm really thankful for this experience."
 

KONTA KEEPS HOME FIRES BURNING

Konta will meet veteran Barbora Strycova – a winner in three against Belgium's Elise Mertens - after bringing Centre Court to its feet at the end of a gruelling battle.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova did not go down without a fight, saving two match points and breaking Konta to recover from 5-1 down to make it 5-4 in the decider, but the elated 19th seed finished the job.

"Petra started playing incredibly freely and hitting through the ball. The balls were coming at 100 miles-an-hour to me," Konta, who assuaged fears over the ankle treatment she received during the match, told BBC.

"I'm tremendously grateful to be here. The way I'm competing, I'm really happy with that."

SVITOLINA LANDING BLOWS ON OTHER SIDE OF THE DRAW

China's world number 50 Shuai Zhang is up next for Halep after beating teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-4 1-6 6-2 to reach a first quarter-final since the 2016 Australian Open.

Yastremska's fellow Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the number eight seed, brushed aside Petra Martic in straight sets to set up a meeting with surprise package Muchova.

A keen boxing fan, Svitolina will be optimistic of sealing semi-final berth and potentially landing a knockout blow on one of the favourites.

"I love watching it. In Ukraine there is great fighters," she said, while pursuing a triumph that could place her alongside the Klitschko brothers and Vasyl Lomachenko in her nation's affections.

"I'm a big fan of [Anthony Joshua]. Unfortunately, [his] last fight wasn't great."

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