World number one Ashleigh Barty battled into the China Open semi-finals on Friday with a gutsy three-set victory over familiar foe Petra Kvitova.

Ashleigh Barty holds on to a top spot in the WTA rankings released Monday but Karolina Pliskova has narrowed the gap heading into the Australia Open.

Dumped out of the Brisbane International in straight sets last week, Barty retains a comfortable cushion of 1,607 points over the Czech, who went on to win the Brisbane title for the third time in four years on Sunday.

Barty is aiming to become the first Australian to win her home Grand Slam since Christine O’Neil in 1976 and continues her preparations this week in Adelaide

Naomi Osaka of Japan, beaten by Pliskova in a marathon semi-final at Brisbane, moves up one place to third at the expense of Simona Halep, who is also fine-tuning her Australian Open challenge in Adelaide.

Serena Williams, who ended a three-year title drought with victory in Sunday’s Auckland Classic final, also moves up one place to ninth.


WTA rankings on January 13:

1. Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 7,547 pts

2. Karolina Plískova (CZE) 5,940

3. Naomi Osaka (JPN) 5,496 (+1)

4. Simona Halep (ROU) 5,461 (-1)

5. Elina Svitolina (UKR) 5,075

6. Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 4,935

7. Belinda Bencic (SUI) 4,605 (+1)

8. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 4,436 (-1)

9. Serena Williams (USA) 4,215 (+1)

10. Kiki Bertens (NED) 4,165 (-1)

11. Madison Keys (USA) 3,072 (+2)

12. Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 2,940 (-1)

13. Johanna Konta (GBR) 2,813 (-1)

14. Petra Martic (CRO) 2,646 (+1)

15. Sofia Kenin (USA) 2,565 (-1)

16. Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 2,390

17. Elise Mertens (BEL) 2,250

18. Angelique Kerber (GER) 2,175

19. Alison Riske (USA) 2,130

20. Donna Vekic (CRO) 2,080

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