Svitolina follows Halep, Kvitova in quarter-finals

- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DUBAI

Feb 22, 2019-

Former winners Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep advanced to the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships on Wednesday and were joined by two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina.

Second seed Kvitova outlasted American qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-5, 1-6, 6-3. Crowd favourite and third seed Halep coped with gusty conditions at the Aviation Club as she beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 7-5, breaking seven times. The Romanian will play her quarter-final against a charged-up Belinda Bencic, who saved seven match points before converting the first of her own to beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (9/7).

Tsurenko managed just a single point over the last three games as former world No 1 Halep demonstrated her superiority by taking a 7-0 lead in their head-to-head record. Svitolina put on the most dominant performance, crushing former Wimbledon and Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-2 in just 62 minutes. She is bidding to become the first woman to win the tournament three times and next faces Carla Suarez Navarro.

The Spaniard edged past Kristina Mladenovic, surprise conqueror of world No 1 Naomi Osaka, sending the Dubai-based Frenchwoman out 7-5, 7-5. Suarez Navarro started on the back foot but rallied to overcome a 5-1 deficit in the first set on the way to victory. But she was not impressed with her own effort.

Fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova was tested by Alison Riske, with the Czech taking more than two hours to produce a 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5) victory. The 2015 finalist won a marathon game late in the second set, holding for 5-5 after seven deuces plus two set points for her American opponent. Pliskova broke a game later but dropped serve herself to force a tie-breaker; the decider ended on a first match point after Riske double-faulted. Angelique Kerber, a semi-finalist on her last two appearances here, lost to Hsieh Su-Wei 5-7, 6-4, 6-0.

Meanwhile, Kvitova, who won the Dubai trophy in 2013, had not played on the WTA Tour since reaching the St Petersburg quarter-finals a fortnight ago. “When I came here, I didn’t really have many days of practice, to be honest,” the two-time Wimbledon winner said.

Published: 22-02-2019 10:56

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