Defending champ Svitolina reaches QFs, Kerber out

By Sheena Amos

Elina Svitolina

DUBAI 21 February 2019: Defending champion Elina Svitolina kept on track to win her third successive Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title on Wednesday, taking just 62 minutes to sweep aside two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-2.

“Yeah, I was trying to find my best game. I think I touched it a little bit today,” said sixth seeded Svitolina. “The most important is to go out there and focus and play every point like really focused. You know she obviously a good player. She been on top for long time. She won the big tournaments. She can come back into the match any moment. That’s why I just had to go out there and be ready for everything. In the end, that’s why the score is like this, because I was really on it today.”

Former champions Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova also moved into the quarter-finals, but both had to overcome second set challenges. Halep emerged with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Lesia Tsurenko and Kvitova fought off qualifier Jennifer Brady to win 7-5 1-6 6-3.

Halep Through

Halep, who won the title in 2015, came through the opening set against Tsurenko in comfort despite there being six service breaks. The world No. 2 then faced the prospect of a third set as her opponent served at 5-4 to level the match, but that merely resulted in Halep raising her game to another level as she responded by winning the final 12 points of the match.

Simona Halep was the champion in Dubai in 2015

With a fourth round at the Australian Open, two Fed Cup wins and a run to the Doha final last week, Halep has played a lot of matches in recent weeks and is not keen on getting involved in long rallies and three-set battles.

“My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible,” she said. “I’m trying to be more aggressive. I feel good on court. I feel that my game is pretty strong, also physically, even if I’m tired a little bit. Yeah, I feel close to my highest level.”

Kvitova Triumphs

For the second straight day 2013 champion Kvitova was drawn into a long three-set fight, with her two hour 34-minute match on Tuesday followed by a two hour 12-minute tussle with Brady. She was happy to once again emerge as the winner from a draining encounter.

Two-time Wimbledon Champion, Petra Kvitova is a strong challenger to regain her 2013 Dubai title

“Definitely it’s a relief right now,” said Kvitova. “I tried to be quicker today than yesterday. I did little bit better, but still was pretty tough. The wind was just terrible today, to be honest. It was really difficult to kind of find a way with it. I couldn’t really serve well today at all. But I’m happy that I was able to get those two wins, which I think it’s great when you don’t playing your best and you still find a way to win it.”

Kerber Falls

In other matches, fifth seed Angelique Kerber fell 5-7 6-4 6-0 to Su-Wei Hsieh, Viktoria Kuzmova beat Sofia Kenin 1-6 7-5 6-2, Carla Suarez Navarro recovered from 1-5 in the first set, saving six set points, to defeat Naomi Osaka’s conqueror Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 7-5, fourth seed Karolina Pliskova saved two second set points to defeat Alison Riske 7-6 7-6 and Belinda Bencic saved six match points to beat eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 2-6 7-6.

Angelique Kerber is sure to be a strong contender again, after reaching the semi-finals in the last two years

“Our defending champion Elina Svitolina played magnificently to reach the quarter-finals and it will take a very special performance to prevent her becoming the first WTA player to win the title for three consecutive years,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

The WTA event continues until 23rd February, with Thursday’s quarter-finals featuring 2019 Brisbane winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova against Su-Wei Hsieh, 2019 Sydney champion and Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova against Viktoria Kuzmova, reigning French Open champion Simona Halep against Belinda Bencic and defending champion Elina Svitolina against Carla Suarez Navarro.

The sensational week of women’s tennis will be followed from 25th February by an equally thrilling men’s event headed by seven-time champion Roger Federer, Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, defending champion and recent Doha winner Roberto Bautista Agut, former US Open winner Marin Cilic, Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori and two-time finalist Tomas Berdych.



Dubai Gazette