New York, Sept 2 : Chinese number one Wang Qiang rocketed into her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal with a career-best win at the US Open, upsetting Roland Garros champion and no.2 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia in straight sets on Sunday.
The Chinese player had not been able to win a set from Barty in two previous meetings last year, losing in the Strasbourg quarterfinals and Zhuhai final, but in Sunday's match, the 27-year-old hit top form to sweep past Barty 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 22 minutes.
"I think I'm really focused on the court today," said Wang, who became the first Chinese player to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Peng Shuai in 2014. "I really enjoyed the way I played. I tried to play more patient."
Wang just lost former coach Peter McNamara of Australia, who had helped her reach the top 20 last year, to cancer in July, and the world No 18 paid tribute to McNamara.
She said: "He helped me a lot. It's really tough. I think he's always been there with me. He told me how to play the match. He took me to the professional tennis. He always believed in me. He told me I can be the top player."
A solid opening service game of the first set might have indicated that the Roland Garros champion had come out in top form, controlling points with her slice backhand and finishing them efficiently with her forehand. But Wang was disciplined and accurate in her baseline game, coolly dealing with the Australian's changes of pace and spin.
As the set progressed and Wang's level remained high, it was Barty who seemed rattled, with her initial form falling away. Wang broke Barty twice to storm to a 5-1 lead before claiming the set at 6-2.
Barty struggled in the opening game of the second set, dropping serve to fall behind again. After that, the Australian showed some flashes of her best form, but whenever the former world number one appeared to find some rhythm, she would stutter immediately on the big points. Wang stayed consistent to hold serve en route to the victory.
Barty failed to convert on all of her nine breakpoints and piled up 39 unforced errors, to Wang's 14.
Barty gave all thumbs up to Wang's clutch play. "I felt like she was able to put the ball with great depth in difficult positions for me," she said. "I still was able to create opportunities. Just very frustrating that on the big points today. Wang played a lot better."
Wang will take on no.8 seed Serena Williams of the United States in the quarterfinals.