Swiatek storms into quarter-finals, Gauff survives Pliskova scare at Dubai Open - GulfToday

Swiatek storms into quarter-finals, Gauff survives Pliskova scare at Dubai Open

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in action against Poland’s Magdalena Frech during their Dubai Open match. Reuters

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in action against Poland’s Magdalena Frech during their Dubai Open match. Reuters

Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor

Top seed Iga Swiatek stormed into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after beating Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday.

The Qatar Open winner dropped the first game of the opening set but roared back in spectacular fashion, winning an incredible seven straight games to take control of the first set.

Svitolina, a back-to-back winner in Dubai in 2017 and 2018, staged a brief comeback in the tight second set. There were five service breaks in total, but Swiatek managed to edge out Svitolina, securing her place in the last eight for the second consecutive year in Dubai.

 “Certainly, I felt she stepped up her game in the second set. It became more challenging to close out points and secure wins,” said World No. 1

 “My aim was to maintain focus, stay proactive, and make strategic decisions without taking excessive risks. Since we both excelled in longer rallies, I had to choose the right moments to apply pressure.

 “Decision-making and shot placement were paramount, in my opinion. These factors determined the outcome of the match,” Swiatek added.

Coco Gauff survived a dramatic rollercoaster ride and a controversial call to edge past Karolina Pliskova 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 and book a spot in the quarter-finals.

After a sluggish start, Gauff faced a daunting 5-1 deficit in the first set, succumbing to Karolina Pliskova’s powerful serve. However, a rejuvenated Gauff stormed back in the second, building a 4-2 lead. Then, controversy struck. A questionable line call and subsequent umpire decision regarding a Gauff serve sparked a five-minute delay and heated protests from the American and the crowd. Despite the frustration, Gauff held her nerve, winning the second set 6-4.

The third set was a tense affair, with both players holding serve until Gauff found another gear after 3-3. Channelling champion spirit, Gauff displayed remarkable grit and determination, winning three consecutive games to secure a hard-fought 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The reigning US Open champion Gauff will next face qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, who stunned the 2022 Dubai winner and ninth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 7-5. Kalinskaya took one hour and 33 minutes to beat the Latvian.

 “Despite her ranking not reflecting her (Pliskova’s) true calibre as a player, I consider this victory to be significant. Hopefully, I can leverage this win to boost my confidence for the remainder of the week,” said the American.

Earlier, Elena Rybakina, the No. 4 seed, overcame a tough challenge from qualifier Magdalena Frech to win 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Despite dropping the second set, Rybakina managed to prevail in a tight third set to secure the victory.

From the onset, Frech presented a formidable challenge, demonstrating her strength as she held two break points and stretched her rival to the limit in the opening game. Although the 26-year-old couldn’t capitalise on that opportunity, the Pole secured the first break of the match at 4-3.

Struggling with consistency in her groundstroke, the World No.4 made 57 unforced errors but still managed to make the inroads. However, she finally found her rhythm when it mattered most, clinching the closely contested first set.

Despite Frech being just two points away from closing it out at 5-3, Rybakina staged a remarkable comeback, breaking back with a stunning backhand down the line. In the subsequent tiebreak, Frech held a 5-2 lead, only for Rybakina to mount a remarkable comeback, winning the last five points of the set.

Refusing to give up easily, Frech shifted gears in the second and broke Rybakina in the second game of the second hit 12 while taking advantage of the latter’s errors.

A battle of serves unfolded in the deciding set, with neither player facing a break point in the first seven games. Rybakina emerged victorious, her powerful delivery proving decisive. She dropped only four points on serve throughout the set, firing five aces along the way.

Rybakina will now meet Jasmine Paolini in the quarter-finals. The unseeded Italian staged an impressive comeback to win the match 6-4, 6-2 against the No. 8 seed, Maria Sakkari.

Sakkari made a strong start and established a lead quickly, but only to be taken back by Paolini. She made a return in both sets despite being broken twice.

Elsewhere, the seventh seed, Marketa Vondrousova, breezed past the 12th seed Liudmilla Samsonova 6-2, 6-2 and Sorana Cirstea secured a hard-fought victory over Donna Vekic 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Related articles