Williams, Kerber ease through in Hong Kong

Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber boosted their hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals on a good day for the seeds at the Hong Kong Open.

All four second-round matches on Thursday were won by seeded players, Williams and Kerber booking their places in the quarter-finals after Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia had done likewise.

Kerber can secure a spot at the season-ending finals this week by claiming her eighth WTA Tour title, while Williams will move into the Road to Singapore top eight if she reaches the final.

Williams dropped only two games in a 6-0 6-2 thrashing of Wang Yafan in her latest outing and Kerber was similarly comfortable as she thumped Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-2.

Wang had no answer to her rival’s power in the first set of their meeting, taking just four points on the Williams serve.

The underdog rallied to carve out four break points in set two, but Williams saved all but one and claimed three breaks of her own to make it through in just over an hour.

Williams will now face Alize Cornet, who came through a gruelling encounter with Yaroslava Shvedova – eventually winning 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-4.

Like Williams, Kerber came good at the key moments as she made light work of Nara, the Japanese ultimately punished for a failure to convert seven break points.

Kerber’s next opponent will be Garcia, a 6-0 6-2 winner against Anastasiya Komardina.