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Barty vs Wang tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Wang become the first Chinese champion in Zhuhai?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 3 Nov 2018
  • Ashleigh Barty faces Wang Qiang in the final of the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai on Sunday
  • Barty vs Wang is live from Zhuhai on Sunday at 4pm local/8am GMT
Ashleigh Barty (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

The last WTA title of the season is up for grabs at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai – but will it be Ashleigh Barty or Wang Qiang who claims it?

A late-season fairytale run for the much-improved Wang Qiang has seen her reach the final of the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai – can she get past the cunning Ashleigh Barty on Sunday?

A semifinalist at the second-tier season-ending championships in Zhuhai 12 months ago, Barty only got through to the final four this time by the skin of her teeth with just one game proving the difference between qualification and elimination after the Australian scored a 6-3, 6-4 win over Caroline Garcia in the group stages but suffered a 4-6, 4-6 defeat to Aryna Sabalenka.

Once in the semifinals, however, Barty produced a very good performance to end the title defense of Julia Goerges. The German started strongly by taking the first set 6-4, but the multi-skilled Barty shifted her tactics to great effect, returning much better and finding ways to make life difficult for the German to take the second set 6-3. By the time Barty broke at the beginning of the third set, Goerges’s energy was spent and it was clear both players knew it. Goerges battled gamely down the stretch, but Barty held nerve and serve to record a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Ashleigh Barty (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
It’s the Australian’s third final of 2018 after she finished runner-up to Angelique Kerber at the Apia International Sydney in January and won the second WTA Tour title of her career in Nottingham in the summer, beating Johanna Konta in the title match. After her stunning leap upwards in the rankings in 2017, which saw her rise over 250 places after having unretired midway through 2016, Barty’s task in 2018 was to consolidate her place in the rankings and she’s done that very well, rising to a career-high world no. 16 at various points over the course of the year with semifinal appearances in Strasbourg, Montreal and Wuhan to her credit and third-round finishes at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, making the last 16 at the US Open.

Down to world no. 19 coming into Zhuhai after narrowly failing to defend her Wuhan finalist points from 2017 (she made the semifinals), Barty can, I believe, rise to world no. 17 if she wins the title, ratifying an impressively solid season from the 22-year-old.

Win or lose, both Barty and Wang know that they are playing the very last match of their seasons – although Wang already had one foot on the beach, so to speak. 

The Chinese player was packed to head off on her holidays after failing to make it to the semifinals, but when Madison Keys – who finished top of the Azalea Group – pulled out due to an injured knee, Wang was subbed in, a rule that applies at both the WTA Finals Singapore and the WTA Elite Trophy but is rarely invoked.

‘I was planning to leave this morning because I was second place in my group,’ Wang said afterwards. ‘Then I was notified today I had to compete and also I'm going to play tomorrow, so actually I couldn't go even go tomorrow.’

Wang added: ‘I wasn't really ready to have another match. But when I was aware that I needed to play at night, I suddenly tried to recall what was it like back in Hong Kong when we had this match. I calmed down. And I actually thought I have a chance to win over [Muguruza].

‘I think I did pretty well today, and she's not really doing well today.’

That’s one way of putting it. Wang absolutely crushed her opponent, former world no. 1 Garbine Muguruza, in Saturday’s Zhuhai semifinals. The two had played a very tight match, which Wang edged, in the Hong Kong semifinals a few weeks ago and Saturday’s clash started out looking like it might be another epic, with plenty of bruisingly long exchanges in the first five games. Muguruza had break points on Wang at 1-2 but couldn’t convert, and then was broken herself in an 11-minute game to trail 2-3 despite having multiple game points. 

Wang Qiang (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)
It looked like the opening act of a promising match, but after a confrontational coaching time-out with Samuel Sumyk ended with him walking away mid-conversation, Muguruza completely went to pieces while Wang caught fire, playing some of the most confident aggressive tennis she has ever displayed while soaking up everything Muguruza could rain down. The Chinese player reeled off 11 straight games, allowing Muguruza just eight points in the second set, on her way to a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

It’s the latest in what has been an unbelievable run of successes for Wang, predominantly on the hard courts of Asia, which have seen her win her first WTA titles in Guangzhou and Nanchang, finish runner-up in Hong Kong, and make the semifinals of Wuhan, Beijing and Hiroshima. Now her Zhuhai run has guaranteed that she will break into the top 20 after this tournament is over. 

But it isn’t over yet. First there’s the matter of a final against Ash Barty. The two women have played once, on clay in Strasbourg in May when Barty won 7-5, 6-4. This surface is a better one for Wang, however, and the Chinese player has improved so much – particularly when it comes to being aggressive and playing attacking tennis – that, with the crowd behind her, the introverted Barty might struggle not to be pushed back into her shell. 

‘I think she's a very smart player,’ Wang said. ‘We played once and I lost at that time. She's a very smart player and she knows how to change her strategies and she has a lot of variety in her serve.

‘Tomorrow what I'll do is do my best and not think too much on the result. It's already a miracle for me to stand on the court. So what I'll do is I'll just relax tomorrow.’

Barty vs Wang WTA Elite Trophy tennis is live from Zhuhai on Sunday at 4pm local/8am GMT

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

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Barty vs Wang tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Wang become the first Chinese champion in Zhuhai?

Ashleigh Barty vs Wang Qiang live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai final on Sunday 4 November: Barty must stay steady and clever to deny Wang a fairytale finish to the 2018 season

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