Aryna Sabalenko
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action against defending champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday. In the battle of Grand Slam winners, Australian Open champion Sabalenka beat former French Open champ Ostapenko. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Australian Open champion and second seed Aryna Sabalenko of Belarus ousted defending champion and former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday. in the quarterfinal, Sabalenko will clash with Barbara Krejcikova of Czech Republic, who downed compatriot and 12th seed Petra Kvitoka 6-3, 6-2.

Earlier, eighth seed Belinda Bencic and 15th seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus crashed out, followed by ninth seed Elena Rybakova, who withdrew from the tournament after failing to recover from a back injury.

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Azarenka was troubled by an ankle injury that severely restricted her movement, and the World No. 14 lost to Madison Keys of the United States 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday. Despite the ankle injury, Azarenka fought bravely, but Keys was quick to capitalise on her limited movement with some drop shots and crosscourt winners.

Keys had partnered with India’s Sania Mirza in her final match before retiring on Tuesday. “I wish we had won the match. It was an amazing experience playing with Sania for the last time. I was really honoured to be part of it,” the American said.

Keys advanced to the quarterfinals, where the World No. 23 will meet fifth-seeded American Coco Gauff, who received a walkover from Rybakina. The Wimbledon champion didn’t recover from the back injury, which worried her during the second-round win over Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.

Bencic falls, Pliskova pulls out

Bencic, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open winner, was humbled by Czech Karolina Muchova, who won 6-1, 6-4. The Swiss had pulled out of the Qatar Open last week after winning her quarterfinal, complaining of exhaustion.

In other matches, third seed Jessica Pegula of the United States and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic entered the last eight. Pegula despatched Romania’s Ana Bogdan 6-4, 6-3, while Pliskova overcame the challenge of Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-2.

Pegula will clash with Muchova, and Pliskova, the World No. 1, who was scheduled play top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland, pulled out due to viral illness. That puts Swiatek straight into the semis after another demolition act in the third round. She trounced Liudmila Samsonova of Russia 6-1, 6-0 with razor-sharp groundstrokes.

Swiatek dominance continues

Swiatek has been so dominant that she has lost only eight games in her last 10 sets over five matches, which she attributed to her renewed focus after the exit from the Australian Open. “I’m trying to play solid and focused on every point and not take anything for granted. Maybe that’s working,” the World No. 1 said.

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“I realised in Australia that my mindset wasn’t really great, and I was feeling stressed. I’m happy that I could start from the beginning with a clean page. I really worked hard to play a solid game from the baseline. I am happy it had an effect,” the Pole added

In a major upset in doubles, top seeds Pegula and Gauff crashed to a 1-6, 3-6 defeat to the Taiwan pair of Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching.

The results

Women's singles, Round of 16:

Jessica Pegula (3), United States, def. Ana Bogdan, Romania, 6-4, 6-3.

Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, def. Anhelina Kalinina, Ukraine, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-2.

Madison Keys, United States, def. Victoria Azarenka (15), Belarus, 6-2, 6-1.

Karolina Muchova, Czech Republic, def. Belinda Bencic (8), Switzerland, 6-1, 6-4.

Coco Gauff (5), United States, def. Elena Rybakina (9), Kazakhstan, walkover.

Iga Swiatek (1), Poland, def. Liudmila Samsonova (14), Russia, 6-1, 6-0.

Aryna Sabalenka (2), Belarus, def. Jelena Ostapenko (13), Latvia, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Barbara Krejcikova, Czech Republic def. Petra Kvitoka (12), Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2.

Women's doubles, Round of 16:

Vera Zvonareva, Russia, and Zhaoxuan Yang (7), China, def. Shuko Aoyama and Makoto Ninomiya, Japan, 2-6, 6-2, 16-14.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, United States, and Leylah Annie Fernandez, Canada, def. Xu Yifan, China, and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Belarus, 3-6, 6-1, 13-11.

Monica Niculescu, Romania, and Kimberley Zimmermann, Belgium, def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia, and Elena Rybakina, Kazakhstan, walkover.

Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova, Russia, def. Zhang Shuai, China, and Giuliana Olmos (4), Mexico, 6-4, 6-2.

Women's Doubles, Quarterfinals:

Latisha Chan and Hao-Ching Chan, Taiwan, def. Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff (1), United States, 6-1, 6-3.