BEIJING — Elina Svitolina beat a No. 1-ranked player for the second time this season, ousting U.S. Open champion Angelique Kerber from the China Open 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals.
The 16th-seeded Svitolina defeated long-time top-ranked player Serena Williams at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, and now has beaten the player who replaced her at No. 1.
Kerber, who had strapping on her upper right leg, was on a run of 22 wins from 26 matches on the tour. The German player had a break to lead in both sets but Svitolina produced four breaks of serve to keep control and set up a quarterfinal match against Daria Gavrilova, who beat Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-3.
“I was trying to think about my next step, what I should try to do,” said Svitolina, who held her composure as Kerber saved match points in the last game. “I tried to make my first serve and concentrated on the next shot, but still I was a little bit shaky.”
Kerber said she had pain in her leg, but didn’t think it was a serious problem.
“I had my chances for sure, but didn’t take it,” she said. “I made a lot of easy mistakes. Physically I wasn’t 100 percent, but I will not say this is the excuse for the loss.”
No. 36-ranked Zhang Shuai had a 6-0, 6-3 win over fourth-seeded Simona Halep, who had six double-faults and was broken five times in a night match. Zhang beat Halep in the first round of the Australian Open in January and leads their career head-to-head meetings 2-1.
Zhang, who contemplated retirement last year after a run of losses, will play in the quarterfinals against No. 11 Johanna Konta, who beat U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2).
In other third-round matches on a rain-interrupted day, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 to take the honors in their personal duel in Asian.
Fresh from a run to the U.S. Open semifinals, Wozniacki beat Radwanska on the way to winning the title at the Pan-Pacific Open in Tokyo last month. But Radwanska won in back-to-back weeks in China, at Wuhan and now in Beijing.
In the men’s draw, second-seeded Rafael Nadal beat qualifier Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 7-6 (6) to advance to a quarterfinal match against Grigor Dimitrov, who ousted sixth-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-7 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4.