Dubai: Former champions Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep joined two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday, as Kiki Bertens became the only player from the top eight seeds to lose so far.
With all top-eight players in action on a perfect day for tennis, world No. 2 Kvitova took her time against fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova before winning 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 in more than two-and-a-half hours, while 2017 and 2018 champion Svitolina was leading 7-6, 4-0 against Ons Jabeur when the Tunisian retired with an aggravated right shoulder injury.
Champion here in 2013, Kvitova struggled early, at times her shots flying wide off. Down 3-1 in the first set, the No. 2 seed did well to break back and draw level at 5-5. But then once again she lost her focus at crucial times in the tiebreak to lose 7-3.
In the next two sets, Kvitova — a losing finalist at the Australian Open last month — stayed calm while building on an early break to take the second set 6-4, and then a break in the ninth in the decider handing her victory.
“She was serving very well today and it was tough to break her. I’m glad that I was able to hold my serve until the chances in the third. That was kind of my point to make it,” Kvitova said.
“I’m not sure what I’m pleased with. Maybe I’m pleased with my comeback at the end of the match even though I lost the tiebreak. It’s pretty tough to be back, be up and play well. But I started again pretty well. I won my first two games in the second set and that was really helpful for me.”
Svitolina was given a helping hand as she began her bid to make tournament history in Dubai after Jabeur was forced to retire. Till then, the sixth-seeded Svitolina had struggled to gain an upper hand against a determined opponent. But the Tunisian received lengthy treatment towards the end of the opening set for a right shoulder injury.
“We’ve already played against each other, and it was 7-6 in the third,” Svitolina said. “I played against her in juniors, so obviously I know she’s a good player. She can deliver a good match. That’s why I think it was kind of expected because she has played both doubles and singles. She got a little bit more used to the conditions here. I know I have won lots of matches here in previous years, but I still needed some time.”
In other matches, former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza defeated Saisai Zheng 7-5, 6-2, but there were two major casualties as 2018 runner-up Daria Kasatkina went down 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to American Sofia Kenin and seventh seed Bertens lost 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 to Viktoria Kuzmova after holding a match point at 6-5 in the tiebreak.
Another American going through was qualifier Jennifer Brady with a 6-4, 7-5 win over 14th seed Caroline Garcia of France.
Petra Kvitova bt Katerina Siniakova 6-7, 6-4, 6-4; Elina Svitolina bt Ons Jabeur 7-6, 4-0 (Retd.); Viktoria Kuzmova bt Kiki Bertens 6-2, 4-6, 7-6; Su-Wei Hsieh bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 6-2; Sofia Kenin bt Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4; Garbine Muguruza bt Saisai Zheng 7-5, 6-2; Simona Halep bt Eugenie Bouchard 7-6, 6-4; Alison Riske bt Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2; Jennifer Brady bt Caroline Garcia 6-4, 7-5; Carla Suarez Navarro bt Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-4; Belinda Bencic bt Stefanie Voegele 6-1, 6-1; Lesia Tsurenko bt Lin Zhu 6-4, 6-7, 6-3; Angelique Kerber bt Dalila Jakupovic 7-6, 6-3