Dubai: Top seed Elina Svitolina escaped a scare from Chinese lucky loser Qiang Wang, while defending French Open champion and fourth seed Jelena Ostapenko succumbed to Elena Vesnina as the top three seeds eased into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open, yesterday.
Starting the defence of her crown following a first-round bye, Svitolina struggled against a gutsy Chinese opponent before winning 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in a battle that lasted for two hours and ten minutes on the third day of the tournament before an appreciative crowd.
In fact, the Chinese girl had lost in her third round qualifying match against Russian Sofya Zhuk on Monday. However,
she had managed to make her way into the main draw as the lucky loser following the last-minute withdrawal of Qatar Open champion Petra Kvitova.
After winning her first round match against world No. 29 Kiki Bertens to register her first-ever main draw victory of
the season, Wang took her time against a more experienced Svitolina and nearly came off with an upset yesterday.
Svtilona took the first set 6-1, but was caught off-guard as her 26-year-old opponent, who had reached the quarter-finals here last year, fought back to win the second set 7-5. Everything seemed to be going the way of the defending champion as Svitolina broke early for a 2-0 cushion. But the Chinese simply hung in and made life tough for Svitolina pushing every ball back into play and making her commit unforced errors. Eventually, it all ended when Wang sent a forehand low into the net.
‘Win is a win’
“In the end, a win is a win. I didn’t expect that either. But always, I try to expect the unexpected. Of course, I was little bit angry at myself that I didn’t bring my best game in the end of the second set. I had to accept and bounce back. But, I was very happy the way I was playing,” Svitolina admitted later.
Earlier in the day, fourth seed Jelena Ostapenko was the biggest casualty as the wild card entrant fell 1-6, 6-7 to Russia’s Elena Vesnina, who was joined by third seeded Karolina Pliskova, fifth seed Caroline Garcia and sixth seed Angelique Kerber along with wild card and unseeded Naomi Osaka in today’s quarter-final line-up.
Third seed Pliskova, a runner-up to Simona Halep in 2015, went on to grind out a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in a little more than two hours, while Kerber took her time before registering a 6-4, 6-2 win over Italian Sara Errani, who had made way through three days of qualifiers, and fifth seed Caroline Garcia powered her way
to a 6-4, 6-2 win over Ekaterina Makarova.
The story of the day, however, was wild card Osaka’s winning run as the Japanese got the better of a higher-ranked Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 7-6 to set a meeting against top seed and defending champion Svitolina in today’s centre court opener at 2pm.
Karolina Pliskova bt Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; Naomi Osaka bt Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 7-6; Angelique
Kerber bt Sara Errani 6-4, 6-2; Elena Vesnina bt Jelena Ostapenko 6-1, 7-6; Caroline Garcia bt Ekaterina Makarova
6-4, 6-2; Elina Svitolina bt Qiang Wang 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
Playing later: Johanna Konta vs Daria Kasatkina; Catherine Bellis vs Garbine Muruguza
Thursday Order of Play:
Centre Court (Start at 2pm) Elina Svitolina vs Naomi Osaka; Karolina Pliskova vs Angelique Kerber; (not before 7pm) Caroline Garcia vs Catherine Bellis OR Garbine Muguruza; Johanna Konta or Daria Kasatkina vs Elena Vesnina.
Court 1 (Start at 2pm) Alicja Rosolska/Abigail Spears vs Latisha Chan/Andrea Sestini Hlavackova.