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Day of the underdogs at Dubai Stadium

Osaka, Vesnina pleased with smooth run at Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open

Gulf News

Dubai: Wild card Naomi Osaka and unseeded Elena Vesnina hogged much of the limelight with emphatic wins on the third day of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open on Wednesday.

Osaka continued her ominous form this week after registering her second big win here in dispatching off higher-ranked Anett Kontaveit to become the first woman to make the quarter-finals. The lowest ranked among players in the main draw at world No. 51, the 20-year-old who also hails from Osaka, was comfortable on one of the side courts as she took the opening set 6-2. In the second set, the Asian player whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese showed late jitters while slipping off from a 5-3 lead.

However, she managed to finally wrap things up and win the encounter in the tiebreaker to seal her quarter-final spot against the winner of the later match between top seed and defending champion Elina Svitolina and lucky loser Qiang Wang that was still being played way past time yesterday.

Also enjoying a high in Dubai was the unseeded Vesnina as she banked on a strong start to win in an hour and 31 minutes against the defending French Open champion. The Russian was off to a breezy start with a couple of breaks sealing an easy first set 6-1. But the Latvian came roaring back in the second and matched Vesnina till the Russian dug in deep to win the crucial tiebreaker.

Nerve-wracking match

“That was definitely a very nerve-wracking match, especially at the end. The tiebreaker accompanied by some long rallies and I was running side to side like a rabbit trying to get every single ball back to her,” Vesnina joked.

“I’m just really happy that I won my match against Jelena. It was a weird match. At the beginning, everything was going my way. I was playing very clean. Jelena was missing a lot of shots. In the second set, she got back. She is a top-10 player, she is a Grand Slam champion. Of course, she will rebound, she will change something in her game. She’s really a good baseliner. She’s hitting quite strong and hard and deep. You have to stay during the rally,” Vesnina added.