Ashleigh Barty has kept alive her chances of preserving her world No.1 status at the end of the week in an impressive comeback victory in China.
The Aussie star fought back to beat France's Caroline Garcia 4-6 6-4 6-1 in the second round of the Wuhan Open on Tuesday.
Barty and Karolina Pliskova are in a race to end the week on top of the WTA rankings.
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Barty would have surrendered the top spot if she had have lost, after Pliskova advanced to the second round with a straight-sets win over Amanda Anisimova.
But as a result of Barty's win, Czech Pliskova now needs to reach the semi-finals and advance one round further than the Australian star if she is to return to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2017.
Barty’s stunning comeback
Barty was off her game in the opening set which had five breaks of serve in total, with 19 unforced errors handing Frenchwoman Garcia the advantage.
Garcia, who won the title here in 2017, then had three break points in the first game of the second set but Barty managed to pull off a remarkable hold.
That swung the momentum in the Aussie’s favour and the top seed conceded only four more points on serve in the set.
"I had to make some small adjustments in the second set," Barty said.
"It was just about me being a little bit smarter with my serving and trying to be in control in those first couple of points."
Barty then raised her game in the third set where, at 1-1, she won 20 of the next 26 points to advance to the last-16 where she will face last week's Guangzhou Open winner Sofia Kenin, who beat Elise Mertens 4-6 6-4 7-6(5).
Meanwhile, third seed Elina Svitolina beat Garbine Muguruza 7-5 6-2 to advance while fourth seed and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep dispatched Barbora Strycova with a 6-3 6-2 victory.
No.1 Watch: With Ash Barty’s opening win @wuhanopentennis, Karolina Pliskova will need to reach the semifinals and advance a round further than Barty to return to No.1.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 24, 2019
If Barty and Pliskova meet in the final, then the winner will own the No.1 ranking after Wuhan.
Great finish from Ash Barty to eventually ease to the line over Caroline Garcia after being in trouble. Looked sharp by the end. #WuhanOpen— Marc McGowan (@ByMarcMcGowan) September 24, 2019
Yeh!!!! Ash Barty you are awesome.— Martie Schoeman (@SchoemanMartie) September 24, 2019