Fourth seed Elise Mertens was eliminated from the WTA Elite Trophy on Thursday in a defeat to defending champion Julia Goerges.
Mertens had opened her Rose Group campaign with a victory over Anett Kontaveit, setting up a decider for a semi-final spot with Goerges.
But, it was the German - who beat Coco Vandeweghe in last year's final - who prevailed in straight sets, winning 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) to top the group on sets won.
The Orchid Group remains up for grabs after Ashleigh Barty secured the straight-sets win she needed to keep her hopes of qualification alive.
The Australian beat Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-4 to go 1-1 in the round-robin and 2-2 in sets played and could yet progress if the French player beats Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets in her final match.
"I looked after my service games, and was able to make a lot of returns and put a lot of pressure on Caroline's service games," Barty said.
"I think [I went] out there with a bit of freedom. I was in a bit of a win-win situation. I go out there and can play well, play with freedom. If I lose, I go home and it's the end of season. I could go out there and just kind of play my style."
In the Camellia Group, second seed Anastasija Sevastova kicked off her title tilt with a 6-0, 7-6 (12-10) win over Zhang Shuai, who is now out of the competition.
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