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Maradona and Radwanska light up Dubai

Wozniacki and Kvitova among the stars in action on Thursday

Dubai: The presence of football legend Diego Maradona at the late session and the winning start of defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska were among the highlights at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open on Wednesday.

Dubai sports ambassador Maradona tossed the coin for the late-night match between Sara Errani and Sorana Cirstea and then continued watching the game with some intrusions for photographs from players and VIP guests.

Former Dubai champion Caroline Wozniacki and her father were among those who approached the Argentinian legend to meet him and have pictures taken in his company during one of the breaks.

On Tuesday, top seed Victoria Azarenka had been the first seed to pull out with an ankle injury, while Germany’s Angelique Kerber – seeded No.4 here – went on Wednesday afternoon.

However, defending champion and third seed Radwanska had no such problems, shrugging off a stuttering start before overcoming gutsy Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-3, as the rest of the seeds made their way into the last-eight stages of the competition.

Samantha Stosur and 2011 Dubai champion Caroline Wozniacki, the seventh and eighth seeds, were the most impressive, winning 6-4, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1 against Su-Wei Hsieh and Jie Zheng respectively.

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova dug deep before carving out a 7-5, 7-6 win over former world number one Ana Ivanovic, while the unseeded Nadia Petrova saw off lucky loser Carla Suarez Navarro, drafted in at the last minute in place of the injured Azarenka.

And then later in the night, fifth seed Errani looked like she was on course to be the last of the seeds to march into the final eight rounds as she took the first set against Sorana Cirstea.

On Thursday, spectators will again see some fine action on Centre Court, with Roberta Vinci taking on Samantha Stosur and Nadia Petrova facing Errani or Cirstea in the first session starting at 2pm.

In the evening session that gets under way at 7pm, Caroline Wozniacki will play Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli and Petra Kvitova will take on defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.