Wuhan - World number three Petra Kvitova has powered into the semi-finals of the $2.4 million WTA Wuhan Open on Thursday, joining Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki in the last four, while Angelique Kerber crashed out.Wimbledon champion Kvitova advanced at the expense of Caroline Garcia, who had previously performed heroics at the inaugural tournament, beating Venus Williams and world number six Agnieszka Radwanska.
The third seed in Wuhan proved to be a step too far for the 20-year-old French rising star, who took only one game in the opening five, before going on to lose the set 6-3.
The pair matched each other early on in the second set before Kvitova broke serve in the seventh game and closed in on victory by taking the set 6-4.
Garcia, who is ranked 49th, has won one WTA title in her career, at Bogota in April.
Kvitova told reporters after the match that she was content with the conditions in Wuhan.
"The court feels a little bit faster... and that probably is what suits my game," she said.
"I just feel well here. The people are coming to support us every time, so it's beautiful to see them there. I feel good, and I work(ed) hard before I came here."
The Czech will now face Elina Svitolina in Friday's semi-final after the Ukrainian beat German seventh seed Angelique Kerber in their quarter-final match 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
- 'No excuse' -
It was a feisty performance from the 34th-ranked player in the world, who showed greater composure in the hot and humid conditions.
Svitolina was 4-1 down in the second set, but dug deep to win the match.
"I think I was proud of myself today, because I was really fighting for every ball and didn't give up on 4-1," she said.
"I think it's the main thing for me that I could find the way to win these kind of matches, because they are great players and they are not giving easy balls."
But it was heartbreak for Alize Cornet, who went out after putting up late resistance against sixth seed Bouchard.
The pair traded breaks early on before Bouchard claimed the first set 6-3.
Cornet appeared to argue with the umpire in the first game of the second set after a video showed that she had served an ace, but it was ruled out.
The French player lost her serve two games later and Bouchard looked to be cruising with the scores at 5-2.
The world number 22 staged a revival which saw her claw her way back to 5-5, but the Canadian took the remaining games in quick succession.
"I feel like I could have closed much better," Bouchard said.
"There is no excuse for that. That's something I really need to work on is closing out better in my matches. It's happened a few times this week."
Cornet has been on terrific form in China, having reached the final of the WTA Guangzhou Open last Saturday.
She also became the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to gain three victories over world number one Serena Williams in a season when the top seed in Wuhan retired from their second round match with a viral illness.
Her other victories over the American power-hitter came at Wimbledon in June and in Dubai in February.
Bouchard will go on to play Wozniacki in the semis, after the world number seven overcame Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky after a scare.
Bacsinszky, who beat Maria Sharapova in the last round, took the first set against Wozniacki 6-4, but the Dane powered back to take the remaining sets 6-2, 6-3.
The Wuhan Open in the central province of Hubei features the world's top 20 women players and reaches its climax on Saturday.
Results from the WTA Wuhan Open on Thursday (x denotes seeding):
Petra Kvitova (CZE x3) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-3, 6-4
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN x6) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-3, 7-5
Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Angelique Kerber (GER x7) 6-4 7-6(7/3)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x8) bt Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3