But Wang, who grabbed headlines at the French Open this year with her straight-sets demolition of former No. 1 Venus Williams, says she is growing in confidence after a successful 2018, and playing in front of home crowds in recent months has helped boost her game.
Barty, runner-up at Wuhan last year, staved off an early fightback from world number three Kerber to seal her first win over a top-10 player this year in an hour and 17 minutes.
"And then there was nothing to lose, when she was leading 5-3 (in the first set), and I started to play well". "I adjusted my position and tried to be more offensive and less passive".
Barty said Sabalenka had had a phenomenal season.
It was Wang's ninth consecutive victory.
Gasparyan, 24, had a much tougher time, but rallied to beat Germany's Mona Barthel 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
In-form Barty is now ranked 17th in the world, and a strong finish in Wuhan - where the victor will get 900 points - could help her inch up the rankings before the end of the season.
Sabalenka, looking for the second WTA title of her career after clinching the Connecticut Open in August, grew even stronger in the second set as her aggressive and accurate shots often left the 17th-ranked Barty flat-footed.
Ash Barty will need to overcome injury after hurting her arm in her quarter-final win.
Barty goes on to face No. 28 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who stunned world No. 5 Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the following match on center court today. "It was extremely close, could've gone either way, but happy to give myself another opportunity tomorrow".
She's risen from No.73 in the world to No.20 this year.
The 26-year-old's run of success also included retaining her Asian Games gold medal in Indonesia in August, beating Chinese compatriot Zhang Shuai.