Juan Martin del Potro progressed to the China Open quarterfinals with a tight two-set victory over Karen Khachanov on Wednesday night in Beijing.
The Argentine prevailed 6-4 7-6(4), a win securing his spot at the second-ending ATP Finals for the first time since 2013.
That #NittoATPFinals qualification feeling ????
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) October 3, 2018
The victory also means Del Potro has beaten the 22-year-old Khachanov in each of their career meetings – all three of which have come in 2018.
Del Potro served for the match in the 11th game and held a match point, only for the Russian to erase it and break back. But Del Potro played the more polished and more measured tennis in the tiebreak.
“I think we played a good match. Basically in the second set we played a good tiebreak with tough points. Karen is a difficult opponent. He has everything to keep improving. He has a big potential to growing in the ranking very soon,” Del Potro said.
“I think I did very good match today.”
The world No.4 next faces Filip Krajinovic, who beat Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.
Earlier on Diamond Court on Wednesday, No.3 seed Grigor Dimitrov failed to close out qualifier Dusan Lajovic in a second-round shock.
Having trailed by a break in the third set, Dimitrov worked hard to get the set on level terms, but when serving at 4-4, he threw in two costly double faults – he finished the match with nine all up – to hand Lajovic the break.
The Serb would win the final seven points of the match to run out a 6-4 2-6 6-4 winner.
Dimitrov’s win-loss record since June’s French Open stands at 5-6.
Lajovic, meanwhile, will face No.5 seed Kyle Edmund in the quarterfinals, who overcame Matteo Berrettini in three compelling sets.
“Being able to produce some really good tennis under pressure in the points that really count, that for me was the biggest thing,” Edmund said.
“It will be a tough match (against Lajovic). He’s a tough competitor.”
Shuai Zhang ensured the host nation will have two players to cheer for in the last 16.
Zhang thumped Timea Babos – the world No.1 in doubles – 6-1 6-2 in just 69 minutes to join compatriot Wang Qiang in the third round.
What a performance from Zhang Shuai!
— WTA (@WTA) October 3, 2018
Wang on Tuesday thrashed an injury-hampered Jelena Ostapenko 6-0 6-0 to set up a meeting with No.7 seed Karolina Pliskova, while Zhang next faces reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber.
“I think my opponent tomorrow, three-time Grand Slam champion, different surfaces, former world No. 1, I will try my best to raise my level, to play my best game in the Diamond Court (where) I always get positive energy,” Zhang said.
“I always feel stronger in the center court. I hope this kind of magical experience will come back to me tomorrow.”
Caroline Wozniacki’s straight-sets win over Petra Martic on Wednesday means she is the highest seed remaining at the China Open.
“I think everyone is trying to fight for Singapore. I’m just here to try and qualify, try and do my best, try and go as far in this tournament as I possibly can,” Wozniacki said. “You have to stay on top of it. You have to stay focused. I do my best every match.”
She’s by no means the only one left in what is a stacked draw in Beijing.
Who’s recent form has impressed you most? (Win-loss record since start of US Open).
— Tennismash (@tennismash) October 3, 2018
In addition to Wozniacki, third seed Kerber and seventh seed Pliskova, No.4 seed and defending champion Caroline Garcia is still in the mix, as is US Open champion Naomi Osaka, the No.8 seed.
Also alive are Julia Goerges and Kiki Bertens – the 10th and 11th seeds respectively – and in-form Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.
The only big name to fall was No.9 seed Sloane Stephens, who fell 4-6 6-2 6-3 in a third-round match to former world No.4 Dominka Cibulkova.
Cibulkova will in the quarterfinals face Anastasija Sevastova, who brushed aside Donna Vekic for the loss of only five games.
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