A revitalised Maria Camila Osorio Serrano breathed new life into her 2018 ITF Junior Masters campaign by conjuring victory over world No. 1 Wang Xiyu, who later on Thursday withdrew from the Chengdu tournament due to injury.
Osorio Serrano proved a different animal, perhaps a wounded one, from her rather listless opening performance in defeat to France’s Clara Burel on Wednesday, and dispatched Grand Slam winner Wang Xiyu 64 62 on Centre Court.
China’s Wang Xiyu had received treatment while leading 4-3 in the first set and never truly recovered, losing the next six games across both sets, as Osorio Serrano announced her arrival at this year’s tournament in style.
That injury, later confirmed as a rib problem, proved decisive for Wang Xiyu’s participation in the competition and in the early hours of the evening she duly announced that she was unable to contest her remaining matches.
That means that current world No. 2 Burel, who defeated Eleonora Molinaro of Luxembourg and was due to face Wang Xiyu on Friday, gets a walkover and is now assured of finishing top of Group Liang and of a place in the semifinals.
Molinaro, who is yet to win a set in the tournament, has a renewed opportunity to qualify for the last four when she faces Osorio Serrano in her final pool match on Friday.
Success for Colombian Osorio Serrano would confirm her own place in the semifinals, although she was simply relieved to have revived her title-winning chances.
“I lost the first match and just thought: ‘it’s another match and I have another opportunity tomorrow’. I just focused on what I do every day. I focused on hitting the ball and trying to find my best form,” said Osorio Serrano.
“I could barely put the ball in the court yesterday but hopefully now I can get into the semifinals. I have the chance to do that and I will try everything to get there. I just want to enjoy every second on court and have fun, give my best and see where it takes me.”
Burel continued her unblemished record with a 61 76(4) triumph against Molinaro, who spied an opportunity to take the tussle to a third set but failed to convert two set points in the dying embers of the second.
As with her opening showdown with Osorio Serrano, Burel had refused to stand on ceremony and hared into a commanding lead in the opening set, which was only tempered by Molinaro winning her third service game.
Nevertheless, a 6-1 scoreline reflected Burel’s dominance, although a one-sided first set gave way to an extremely tight second, which included six successive games with a break of serve.
Two set points came and went for Molinaro and Burel, whose powerful forehand to the baseline proved a constant menace, did not require a second invitation to settle matters, winning the tiebreak 7-4.
Before learning of Wang Xiyu’s withdrawal, Burel had been eyeing revenge for her defeat in the US Open final last month. She said: “I want to win this match [against Wang Xiyu] to make sure that I reach the semifinals. We only played each other recently in the final at Flushing Meadows and I am sure it will be a good match.
“I was very happy to beat Eleonora because it got quite close at the end. I had to play the second set with a little more passion and she played better – I am happy overall.”
Whereas everything had been gloriously positive for the Chinese girls on Wednesday, such optimism was severely dented on day two as, prior to Wang Xiyu’s withdrawal, Wang Xinyu succumbed to defeat in her second clash of the draw.
Wang Xinyu, the highest-ranked player in Group Li as per the rankings on 15 October, had been in devastating form during her whitewashing of Leylah Fernandez in her opening salvo but ran into an inspired Clara Tauson.
She had, however, appeared ready to dish out another mauling, winning the opening set 60, but Tauson, who arrived in China as the world No. 3 and on the back of lifting the Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup, turned the tide to great effect to confirm her place in the semifinals.
The second set was decided by a tiebreak, which Tauson claimed 7-5, before the 15-year-old Dane – the youngest player in the girls’ draw – battled back from a 3-1 deficit to take the third set 6-4.
“I am very happy, she is a tough opponent and I am very pleased that I came away with the win,” said Tauson. “I didn’t want the second set to end like the first so I went out there and fought for every point and it paid off.
“In the second and third sets I felt like I could cope with her hard hitting and was keeping up with her, which was very pleasing. I’m not focusing so much on the results, more having fun on court.”
There remains much to be decided in Group Li after Liang En Shuo revived her glory bid by brushing aside Fernandez on Court No. 1. Liang had lost her opening match to Tauson, but prevailed 64 61 against the Canadian.
“I feel good,” said Liang of Chinese Taipei. “The first set was a little bit tough for me but I felt more comfortable in the second. It was very important for me to win today and maintain the chance of making the semifinals. I will keep focusing on doing my job.”
Australian Open winner Liang faces Wang Xinyu on Centre Court on Friday. Both players have won one match apiece so far and the winner would find themselves in the last four. Tauson concludes her round-robin matches against Fernandez.