Halep beats error-prone Sharapova for first win in eight attempts
World No. 2 Simona Halep beat Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 in the third round of the China Open yesterday for her first win over the Russian in eight attempts.
Halep, who lost to Sharapova in the first round of the US Open in August, won five out of nine break-points and took advantage of an error-prone display to hand the Russian her first straight-set defeat of the season in one hour and 12 minutes.
Despite hitting more winners than her rival, Sharapova committed 39 unforced errors and struggled to contend with the second seed's power and aggression in Beijing.
The Romanian goes through to the quarter-finals where she will take on either 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Daria Kasatkina.
Also advancing to the third round were China's Peng Shuai, who made short work of Romanian Monica Niculescu with a 6-3, 6-2 win, and Wuhan Open champion Caroline Garcia of France who overcame Belgian Elise Mertens 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
Meanwhile, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko has become the seventh player to book her spot at the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global from Oct 22-29.
The 20-year-old Latvian joins Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki in the elite eight-woman singles field.
Ostapenko secured her ticket to the WTA Finals yesterday after Briton Johanna Konta - currently holding the eighth and final qualification spot in the Porsche Race to Singapore - withdrew from next week's Hong Kong Open on Tuesday.
Ostapenko defeated Australian Samantha Stosur 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third round of the China Open in Beijing yesterday.
Despite losing in the first round of the China Open, Konta can still complete the WTA Finals singles field this week if either Australian Ashleigh Barty or Russian Elena Vesnina fails to win the title and France's Garcia falls before the semi-finals in Beijing. - WIRE SERVICES