ZHUHAI, China(AP) _ Top-seeded Venus Williams rallied to beat Saisai Zheng of China, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 and advance to the semifinals of the WTA Elite Trophy on Thursday.
Williams hit six aces and saved two of four break points against Zheng, who entered the tournament on a wild-card berth.
Zheng raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set with aggressive groundstrokes. Williams caught up to 5-4 before the Chinese player closed the opening set after 44 minutes.
“You could see that she played amazing and she really is a future champion,” Williams said of Zheng.
“First set, wow, she played so well until the last point. She definitely deserved to get the wild card into this tournament. She has a lot of talent and there are definitely great things for her in the future.”
The win extends Williams record to 2-0 in Group A.
Svetlana Kuznetsova kept alive her slim chances of reaching the semifinals when fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki retired from their round-robin match. After Kuznetsova won the first set 7-5, Wozniacki quit at 2-2 in the second with a left wrist injury.
Third-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat sixth-seeded Sara Errani 6-0, 6-3.
The tournament brings together 11 of the top players who did not qualify for last week’s WTA Finals in Singapore, including Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic and Roberta Vinci.
The qualifiers compete in a four-group round robin format, with the winners of each group advancing to the semifinals.
One player from the field can move into the Top 10 on Monday. Williams is in contention for that spot with Carla Suarez Navarro, Karolina Pliskova and Vinci.