Australia’s Ashleigh Barty
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty returns the ball against Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Wuhan: World No. 1 Ash Barty fended off a late comeback attempt by American Sofia Kenin to reach the Wuhan Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, while Simona Halep retired from her match due to a lower back injury.

After cruising through the first set without any trouble, Barty fought back from a break down in the next, saving two set points to overcome Kenin 6-3, 7-5 for her third win over the 20-year-old Guangzhou champion in four meetings this season.

Next up for the Australian top seed will be Petra Martic who defeated qualifier Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-1.

Former French Open champion Halep was forced to quit in the opening set of her encounter with wildcard Elena Rybakina while trailing 5-4 after feeling sharp pain.

“It’s a lower back (injury). I think it’s more muscle, but I don’t know yet because I didn’t check it properly,” the fourth seed said.