Katie Boulter’s run in the Tianjin Open was brought to an end after a battling three-set defeat to top seed and former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova.
The Briton snatched the first set and was a break up in the decider but ultimately succumbed to a 7-5, 0-6, 3-6 loss to her Czech opponent in the quarter-finals.
However, the 22-year-old’s run to the last eight – having beaten Maria Sakkari and Barbora Krejcikova this week – will likely propel her into the top 100 in the rankings.
In a back-and-forth first set, Boulter, playing against a top-10 opponent for the first time, claimed an early break, which she immediately surrendered. The current world No 101 dropped serve to trail 5-4 but then reeled off three games in a row, including back-to-back breaks, to gain the initiative in the contest.
That seemed to fire up Pliskova, however, who used her intimidating serve and groundstrokes to overpower Boulter, who was bagelled in the second set. Boulter, though, stole a march on her opponent in the decider as she went 2-0 ahead but, as in the first set, Pliskova broke straight back.
Pliskova claimed the decisive break in the seventh game and went on to wrap up victory in two hours and eight minutes.
Kyle Edmund, meanwhile, once again came up short against Alexander Zverev after losing in 6-4, 6-4 to the world No 5 in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.
Zverev needed only one opportunity to break his opponent in either set as he became the fifth player to book his place at the season-ending ATP Finals in London.
The 23-year-old sits 12th in a race to finish in the top eight and is more than 1,500 points adrift of French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, who occupies the final qualifying place. Edmund was bidding to reach his first Masters semi-final but a couple of forehand errors gifted Zverev a break in the opening game.
A sublime backhand pass followed by a forehand winner sealed a break to love for Zverev in the fifth game of the second set, and he duly wrapped up victory with minimal fuss.
The 21-year-old, who had 23 winners and 12 unforced errors, will face either Novak Djokovic or Kevin Anderson next for a place in the final.