Barty powers to Elite Trophy win
ASH Barty has one foot in the WTA Elite Trophy semi-finals after an impressive straight sets defeat of Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Wednesday night.
The new Australia No.1 produced the most commanding performance of the round robin tournament so far, sending down nine aces in the 6-4 6-1 win in Zhuhai, China.
Barty plays Angelique Kerber on Thursday in her second group game, with a win assuring her passage to Saturday's semi-finals.
The Russian had been taken to three sets by Kerber on Tuesday night, acknowledging how tired she was after the tough win.
The Queenslander took advantage to dominate proceedings, her only blemish coming while serving at 5-3 in the first set.
But she brushed aside that break of serve to win seven of the eight next games against the world No.14.
The 74-minute victory was Barty's eighth against a top-20 opponent this year, a record that has helped her jump 251 places up the rankings since she played the Brisbane International in January.
Currently ranked 20 in the world, Barty could sneak into the top 16 and earn close to $900,000 if she is undefeated in winning the season-ending title.