Thursday’s Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open will see history being made as Qiang Wang takes to the court as the first ever Chinese woman to play in the quarter-finals of the US$2.7 million Premier 5 tournament in Central China.
Wang is currently enjoying some of the best form of her career, having won last week’s Guangzhou International Women’s Open, and is likely to enjoy rousing support from her home crowd when she takes on Monica Puig in Thursday’s quarter-finals - just as she did when she beat Daria Gavrilova to seal her place in the last eight.
“A big thank you to all the fans, especially after the Mid-Autumn festival (a holiday in China),” said Wang. “They’re working during the day, but they're coming here for the matches. Even when I'm low, they are always supporting me. I think this is why I'm here, this is what is motivating me in my career.”
Wuhan is the home town of Chinese tennis legend Li Na, someone who Wang said she hoped to emulate. "She's a role model for many athletes, especially Chinese players. If I can play as well as she did, I will have a very perfect life."
On a day of upsets in Wuhan, qualifier Puig knocked out Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki with a 76(10) 75 win, a victory which rewarded Puig with her first ever WTA Premier 5 quarter-final.
“It feels really good. I've had a couple difficult months with the injury this year, having to take some time off,” said Puig, who shot to fame when she won the Gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. “I feel like in a way it helped me reset, refocus, get back to 100% playing physically, tennis-wise, everything.
“I've been having some good results lately, some really tough matches. I've been playing a lot of them. That was pretty much the goal. I just wanted to play a lot of matches and see how far I could get. This is really a great start.”
Australian Ashleigh Barty and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will face off in Thursday’s opening quarter-final of the day session after they knocked out two of the pre-tournament title favourites to reach the last eight. Barty, who was runner-up in Wuhan last year, beat Angelique Kerber to earn what she said was “probably the best win of my career, rankings-wise.” Pavlyuchenkova turned on the style to beat two-time Wuhan champion Petra Kvitova 36 63 63.
Dominika Cibulkova faces Aryna Sabalenka for a place in Friday’s semi-finals; while Finland’s Anett Kontaveit, who overcame local favourite Shuai Zhang to seal her spot in the quarters, will find herself up against Katerina Siniakova.
Fitting in with the theme of the day, Siniakova - who, like Puig came through qualifying - scored a late-night upset over two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza.
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DONGFENG MOTOR WUHAN OPEN - WUHAN, CHINA
21-29 SEPTEMBER 2018
ORDER OF PLAY - THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2018
CENTRE COURT start 2:30 pm
 A. Barty (AUS) vs A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Not Before 4:00 pm
[WC] Q. Wang (CHN) vs [Q] M. Puig (PUR)
Not Before 6:30 pm
D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs A. Sabalenka (BLR)
A. Kontaveit (EST) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP) or [Q] K. Siniakova (CZE)
COURT 1 start 2:30 pm
 T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs S. Aoyama (JPN) / L. Marozava (BLR)
 G. Dabrowski (CAN) / Y. Xu (CHN) vs L. Kichenok (UKR) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) or  E. Mertens (BEL) / D. Schuurs (NED)
A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / A. Sevastova (LAT) vs [WC] Y. Duan (CHN) / Y. Wang (CHN)
 N. Melichar (USA) / K. Peschke (CZE) vs  A. Sestini Hlavackova (CZE) / B. Strycova (CZE)
RESULTS - SEPTEMBER 26, 2018
Singles - Third Round
[Q] M. Puig (PUR) d  C. Wozniacki (DEN) 76(10) 75
 A. Barty (AUS) d  A. Kerber (GER) 75 61
A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d  P. Kvitova (CZE) 36 63 63
D. Cibulkova (SVK) d  D. Kasatkina (RUS) 63 76(3)
[Q] K. Siniakova (CZE) d  G. Muguruza (ESP) 76(3) 76(1)
A. Sabalenka (BLR) d [Q] S. Kenin (USA) 63 63
A. Kontaveit (EST) d S. Zhang (CHN) 64 46 61
[WC] Q. Wang (CHN) d D. Gavrilova (AUS) 75 62
Doubles - Second Round
 T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) d K. Christian (USA) / S. Santamaria (USA) 62 62
 A. Sestini Hlavackova (CZE) / B. Strycova (CZE) d S. Hsieh (TPE) / B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 76(1) 2610-7
[WC] Y. Duan (CHN) / Y. Wang (CHN) d  A. Barty (AUS) / C. Vandeweghe (USA) 33 Retired
 E. Mertens (BEL) / D. Schuurs (NED) d L. Kichenok (UKR) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 64 2610-1
A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / A. Sevastova (LAT) d  L. Hradecka (CZE) / E. Makarova (RUS) 64 76(4)
The 2018 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open takes place between 21-29 September 2018. For more information and to buy tickets visit: www.wuhanopen.org and www.4008702014.com
About the 2018 Wuhan Open:
Optics Valley International Tennis Centre, Wuhan, China
WTA Premier 5 event
September 21-29 September, 2018
Total Financial Commitment: $2,746,000 (USD)
56 Singles Main Draw, 32 Qualifying Draw, 28 Doubles Draw
Winner’s WTA ranking points: 900
Eleanor Preston, The Emilia Group (international)
Email: email@example.com +44 7967562040
Lleyton Li, Bright PR (China)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone (+86) 138 1684 9400