FILE - Australia's Ashleigh Barty. Photo: Peter Foley/EPA

WUHAN – Australia's Ash Barty kept alive her chances of preserving her world number one status at the end of the week after she fought back to beat France's Caroline Garcia 4-6 6-4 6-1 in the second round of the Wuhan Open on Tuesday.

Barty and Karolina Pliskova are in a race to end the week on top of the WTA rankings. As a result of Barty's win on Tuesday, Czech Pliskova needs to reach the semi-finals and advance one round further than the Australian if she is to return to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2017.

Pliskova beat American Amanda Anisimova 6-3 6-3 to reach the last 16.

French Open champion Barty was off her game in the opening set which had five breaks of serve in total, with 19 unforced errors handing Frenchwoman Garcia the advantage.

Garcia, who won the title here in 2017, then failed to convert three break points in the first game of the second set which swung the momentum in Barty's favour and the top seed conceded only four more points on serve in the set.

"I had to make some small adjustments in the second set," Barty said. "It was just about me being a little bit smarter with my serving and trying to be in control in those first couple of points."

Barty then raised her game in the third set where, at 1-1, she won 20 of the next 26 points to advance to the last-16 where she will face last week's Guangzhou Open winner Sofia Kenin, who beat Elise Mertens 4-6 6-4 7-6(5).

Third seed Elina Svitolina beat Garbine Muguruza 7-5 6-2 to advance while fourth seed and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep dispatched Barbora Strycova with a 6-3 6-2 victory.