World number one Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Hong Kong Open after a shock 6-3 6-1 defeat by Australia’s Daria Gavrilova as defending champion Jelena Jankovic pulled off a comeback victory over Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
German Kerber, who also suffered a surprise loss to Elina Svitolina in the round of 16 at last week’s China Open, made six double faults and struggled on serve throughout as her 38th-ranked opponent secured victory in an hour and 14 minutes.
Moscow-born Gavrilova, 22, fired down five aces as she continues her quest for a first WTA singles title and will next face Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the final.
Her victory over Kerber, who surged to the top of the rankings after winning the Australian and U.S. Open titles this year as well as reaching the Wimbledon final, was her first against the German Olympic silver medallist in six meetings.
“I guess I’m really excited, I’ve played Angie six times and now I’ve finally won, it’s really exciting,” Gavrilova said.
“I was prepared for a battle. I think Angie has had a long season. I didn’t expect to win that easily but I was ready to turn it around and get a win against her.”
Mladenovic defeated American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 6-3 7-6(3).
Unseeded Cornet, who ousted second seed Venus Williams in the previous round, committed 13 double faults as seventh seed Jankovic secured a 3-6 6-4 6-2 win to set up a semi-final clash with Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.
Former world number one Wozniacki, the fifth seed, took just under 90 minutes to oust China’s Wang Qiang 6-3 7-5.
Madison Keys, Carla Suarez Navarro reach semifinals in Linz
Madison Keys advanced to her fifth semifinal of the season by beating Oceane Dodin of France 6-3, 6-3 at the Generali Ladies on Friday.
The seventh-ranked American will play either top-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the French Open champion, or Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland for a place in Sunday’s final.
Fourth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain also reached the semifinals after defeating Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
The third-seeded Keys converted all three of her break points on Dodin’s serve and the French qualifier double-faulted on match point.
Keys, who hasn’t dropped a set in the tournament, is 3-1 in semifinals this season. She won her second career title in Birmingham in June.