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Top seeds Badosa and Garcia ousted at Pan Pacific Open

Zhang Shuai of China returns a shot against Caroline Garcia of France during a singles match in the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament at Ariake Colosseum Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Zhang Shuai of China returns a shot against Caroline Garcia of France during a singles match in the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament at Ariake Colosseum Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Top seed Paula Badosa, second seed Caroline Garcia and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina were knocked out of the Pan Pacific Open on Wednesday.

Badosa was overwhelmed by Qinwen Zheng, the 19-year-old rapid improver from China, 6-3, 6-2. Qinwen won 10 of the last 12 games, playing fearlessly on Badosa’s serve to break her four times.

“It’s not a surprise, I always knew I had the level, I just had to make it,” Qinwen said after her first completed top-10 win.

Qinwen’s third quarterfinal of the year will be against Claire Liu, who beat Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1.

Garcia was upset by another Chinese in the second round, Zhang Shuai, who prevailed 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in 2 1/2 hours.

Garcia broke Zhang in the opening game and won the set with her 10th ace. But despite serving 27 aces — beating Qinwen’s mark of 21 in a match for best on tour this year — Garcia couldn’t hold her form and Zhang used her speed and precision to take the second set.

Zhang said her many years of playing and training in Japan paid off.

“I was trying to stay calm. I told myself in the tough moments how I never lose on this court so today I will win,” she said. “This is my home tournament so that gave me a lot of motivation. Everything is positive here and that’s why I played really well.”

Rybakina was coming off losing a three-set final in Slovenia last weekend but struggled to find any rhythm against an in-form Liudmila Samsanova, who won their tournament opener 6-2, 6-4.

Samsonova won two tournaments in August and reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open, and was calmly efficient in Tokyo.

“I’m incredibly happy about this match,” she said. “It’s always tough to play Elena. She’s a big champion now so I was prepared for a big fight. Last month was very positive for me. Winning a tournament I have more confidence, but I have to stay focused.”

She faces China’s Xinyu Wang in the second round.

Third-seeded Garbine Muguruza avoided the upsets after a first-round bye by cruising past Greek qualifier Despina Papamichail 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

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