WUHAN, China - Svetlana Kuznetsova brought Venus Williams' defense of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open to abrupt end on Wednesday with a dominant victory in their eagerly anticipated third-round showdown.
Against an out-of-sorts Williams, Kuznetsova took full advantage, strolling to a 6-2, 6-2 win and a quarterfinal meeting against either Agnieszka Radwanska or Caroline Wozniacki.
"It was a good match. I don't think Venus played her best game. But I've been confident and I've been playing well," Kuznetsova said. "I didn't use couple of my chances in the second set. But, yeah, I still could finish it 6-2.
"I felt like Venus started to play better in the end and it was really important for me to keep the momentum."
A good run this week will boost Kuznetsova's chances of reaching the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. She began the tournament just over 400 points behind Carla Suárez Navarro, the occupant of the eighth and final qualifying berth, although she is not the only one giving chase.
Johanna Konta is also in the hunt, and boosted her chances thanks to a 7-5, 7-6(6) win over Suárez Navarro.
All the qualities that have characterized Konta's recent rise up the ranks were present during her two hours on court with the Spaniard, in particular fighting spirit as she fended off six second set points to breathe new life into her Singapore quest.
"There definitely wasn't much in it in that second set. Actually even the first set, to be honest. I think it was a very, very close game," Konta said. "The time that we spent on court for two sets I think shows that as well.
"I thought we brought out a lot of good tennis in each other. Whenever one of us dropped off a bit, the other one was always there. Yeah, it was a really tough battle, and I really enjoyed being a part of it. I think when I had those set points I was fully prepared to obviously play a third if need be. I really just tried to be brave and just play the way I wanted to play throughout the whole match, and those points as well."
The Briton made most of the early running but was not rewarded until the final game of the opening set when the No.7 seed netted a backhand to surrender her serve. Roles were reversed in the second set, as Suárez Navarro began to dictate from the baseline, twice moving a break ahead.
However, Konta dealt with the pressure superbly, saving three set points in a marathon ninth game, and then recovering from 6-3 down in the tie-break. The result sees her match last year's run as a qualifier, and sets up a meeting with either Petra Kvitova or World No.1 Angelique Kerber.