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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Kvitova, Halep, Pliskova blow into quarters in windy Dubai

Crowd favourite and third seed Halep coped with the gusty conditions the Aviation Club as she beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 7-5, breaking seven times.

tennis Updated: Feb 20, 2019 22:43 IST
AFP
AFP
Dubai
File picture of Simona Halep
File picture of Simona Halep(AFP)
         

Former winners Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep battled through brisk desert winds to advance into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships on Wednesday.

Second seed Kvitova outlasted American qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

Crowd favourite and third seed Halep coped with the gusty conditions the Aviation Club as she beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 7-5, breaking seven times.

Ukraine’s Tsurenko managed just a single point over the last three games as former number one Halep demonstrated her superiority by taking a 7-0 lead in their head-to-head record.

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 monster 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.

Fifth seed Angelique Kerber, a semi-finalist on her last two appearances here, lost to Hsieh Su-Wei 5-7, 6-4, 6-0.

The German former world number one dropped serve seven times in the one-and-three-quarter hour contest.

Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro made quick work of Kristina Mladenovic, surprise conqueror of Australian Open champion 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.

“I didn’t play good today. I started badly,” the world number 26 said. “Sometimes is not easy take the confidence back again.

“But, well, point by point, game by game, I just tried to fight, tried to relax a little bit.

“In the second set I felt tired -- I didn’t enjoy the match at all.”

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.

“I had something different to do in my life. I wasn’t really that prepared for this tournament.

“But I’m happy I was able to get two wins. It’s great when you’re not playing your best and you still find a way to win.”

- Halep delights Romanian fans -

Halep, a finalist in Doha last week, was supported even in the middle of a workday by scores of chanting, enthusiastic local Romanian fans and her country’s ambassador to the UAE as she rolled over Tsurenko in tricky conditions.

“The wind was difficult today. It didn’t feel like last week,” Halep said. “I know how she’s playing, it’s not my favourite style because she doesn’t give any power (on the ball).

“I’ve had many matches with her and won them. I feel confident when I play her.”

The Romanian, who is without a coach, was more than pleased with her strong finish to the match.

“My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible. I’m trying to be more aggressive.

“I’m more relaxed. I don’t put pressure on myself. Also I have no expectations. I feel that my game is pretty strong.

“I feel close to my highest level.”

First Published: Feb 20, 2019 22:43 IST

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