Ashleigh Barty. Image Credit: AFP

Shenzhen: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty clinched pole position in the Red Group after defeating Petra Kvitova in straight-sets at the WTA Finals in China on Thursday.

The French Open champion stormed into the semi-finals with a crushing 6-4, 6-2 win in one hour and 28 minutes at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre. The result knocked out the winless Czech from the round-robin tournament.

“I felt like I executed really well,” she said after the match. “I knew I had to play aggressively. I’m really excited to still have another chance to play here.”

US Open champion Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the Finals due to a knee injury.

The Canadian sensation crashed out of contention at the round-robin tournament when she retired hurt against Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday. World No.12 Sofia Kenin will replace Andreescu for Friday’s dead-rubber against defending champion Elina Svitolina, who has already clinched top position from the Purple Group.