Top seeds in title frame as Dubai Tennis Championships enter quarter-finals

Top seeds in title frame as Dubai Tennis Championships enter quarter-finals
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, joins Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinal of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 February 2023
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Top seeds in title frame as Dubai Tennis Championships enter quarter-finals

Top seeds in title frame as Dubai Tennis Championships enter quarter-finals
  • 1 Top seed Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka (2), Jessica Pegula (3) and Coco Gauff (5) among leading lights in Singles contention
  • Taiwan’s Doubles duo Chan and Chan send home top seeds Gauff and Pegula to advance to semifinals

DUBAI: The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships’ top three seeds remain in contention for WTA1000 glory after successfully navigating their respective routes into Thursday’s quarter-finals.

Top seed Iga Swiatek, the World No. 1, breezed into the last eight with an emphatic 6-1, 6-0 victory over 14th seed Liudmila Samsanova on a sun-drenched Center Court at Dubai Tennis Stadium. Swiatek, who is looking to secure consecutive WTA wins after triumphing in Doha last week, overran Samsonova in only 76 minutes. The comprehensive victory means Swiatek has lost only eight games in her last 10 sets.

Even more ominously for the Pole’s rivals in Dubai, Swiatek received a surprise walkover into Friday’s semifinals after her scheduled last eight opponent, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, withdrew from the tournament late on Wednesday evening with a viral illness.

“I’m just trying to be really solid and focused on every point. I’m happy it’s working. I realized in Australia that my mindset wasn’t great, I was stressed with the season starting and being world No. 1, so I’m starting from the beginning with a clean page,” said Swiatek, the current French Open and US Open champion.

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, joins Swiatek in the quarterfinals after defeating reigning Dubai champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.

“Jelena played unbelievable tennis in the first set — I couldn’t do anything. I turned the game around somehow and started playing incredible tennis. I’m super happy with the win and I just want to keep focusing on my game, and keep winning,” said Sabalenka, whose unbeaten run now stands at 13 consecutive matches. The tournament’s second seed will face the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova in the last eight, after the 27-year-old defeated compatriot and 2013 champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-2 in the evening’s final match on Center Court.

The US’s Coco Gauff, the world No. 6 and the fifth seed in Dubai, received a walkover into the singles quarterfinals after Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, withdrew from the championships with a lower back injury. Gauff will contest in-form Madison Keys in an all-American clash on Thursday.

Eighth seed Belinda Bencic, however, will not be repeating her 2019 win in Dubai after missing out on a place in the last eight. The Swiss star exited the championships following a disappointing 6-1, 6-4 loss to Karolina Muchova, who will face world No. 3 Jessica Pegula in the quarters after the American’s 6-4, 6-3 victory over Romania’s Ana Bogdan earlier on Wednesday.

In the WTA1000 event’s first doubles quarterfinal, Taiwanese duo Hao-Ching Chan and Latisha Chan outclassed top seeds Gauff and Pegula 6-1, 6-3 in a Court One masterclass to become the first pairing to reach the semifinals. The duo will find out their opponents in the last four following the completion of doubles quarter-finals matches on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova advanced to the quarter-finals with a powerful 6-4,6-2 defeat of fourth seeds Giuliana Olmos of Mexico and China’s Shuai Zhang. The Russian duo will be joined in the last eight by Canada’s Leylah Fernandez and the US’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who edged past Aliaksandra Sasnovich and China’s Yifan Xu 3-6, 6-1, 13-11. Romania’s Monica Niculescu and Belgium’s Kimberley complete the quarter-final line-up after receiving a walkover following Rybakina’s injury ruled her — and playing partner Anastasia Pavluchenkova — out of Round of 16 clash.