Johanna Konta falls to Petra Kvitova in the Wuhan Open quarter-finals
Last Updated: 03/10/16 1:48pm
Johanna Konta missed the chance to close in on a place in the WTA Tour finals after being knocked out of the Wuhan Open by Petra Kvitova.
A victory for Konta in the quarter-final match would have seen her narrow the gap to just 81 points on eighth-placed Carla Suarez Navarro in the Road to Singapore, where the top eight players for the year all compete next month.
However, she had no answer to the powerful hitting of the Czech in a 6-3 6-4 defeat in which she failed to take any of her four break points.
She was hurt further by Svetlana Kuznetsova's three-set win over Agnieszka Radwanska, with the Russian now ahead of Konta in the race.
A run to the final in China and results going her way elsewhere would also have seen Konta break into the top 10 of the overall rankings for the first time in her career and become the first Briton to do so since Jo Durie in 1984 and just the fourth ever after Virginia Wade and Sue Barker also made it.
But, with three tournaments left before Singapore, the 25-year-old, who has had a superb year, still has the opportunity to achieve both feats.
It was not to be for her against Kvitova, who came into the clash on the back of a three-hour-20-minute marathon with world No 1 Angelique Kerber on Wednesday night.
The 2014 champion in Wuhan finished that match on one leg after a severe bout of cramp, but she was up for this one and was the beneficiary of a Konta error in the eighth game that allowed her a crucial break in the first set.
Kvitova saved two break points early in the third game of the second set and ground Konta down to take her serve again at 3-2.
The Brit would have fancied her chances if she could have found a way back in, with Kvitova visibly struggling with tiredness, but her power hitting got her through and she served out for the win.
World No 5 Simona Halep downed Madison Keys in the quarter-finals to book her place in the WTA Tour finals for the third consecutive year.
Big-serving American Keys took an early lead in the first set, breaking the Romanian's serve twice, but was unable to maintain the momentum as Halep levelled and then took the set 6-4.
Halep, who turned 25 this week, dropped just two games to take the second set and confirm her place in the eight-player season finale in Singapore where she will join Kerber and Serena Williams, the only other two to have so far qualified.
"It's amazing to be qualified again for Singapore three years in a row. It's a good thing. It gives me confidence," said Halep, who now plays Kvitova in the semi-finals.