Dubai: Led by Kristina Mladenovic, the nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion and the second seed, the remainder of the seeds breezed into the quarter-finals of the 25th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, on Thursday.
Seventh-seeded Anastasia Zakharova put up the strongest show with a 6-0, 6-1 annihilation of qualifier Anastasia Zolotareva in under an hour to maintain rationale in the event after Defending champion and No 4 Daria Snigur and eighth seed Sinja Kraus had fallen in the first round.
No 3 Magdalena Frech of Poland was also at her best with a smooth 6-2, 6-3 win over Finland’s Anastasia Kulikova, while No 5 Viktoria Kuzmova breezed through 6-4, 6-2 against American Sophie Chang to ensure her spot in the last eight against Mladenovic.
Dubai resident Mladenovic, who had been stretched by qualifier Cristina Dinu on Tuesday, once again had to put her best foot forward with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech.
Nothing comes easy
Mladenovic, a runner-up here when she lost in straight sets to Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in 2011, is keen to continue her winning run as she lined up another former runner-up and No 5 Kuzmova in Friday’s quarter-final.
“She’s [Kuzmova] been a strong player always. She was top-50 once upon a time, and I am glad I’ve had these two matches under my belt to get ready for the tougher battles ahead,” Mladenovic stated. “It’s the quarter-finals now and nothing is going to come easy.”
Earlier, Frech registered another straight-set 6-2, 6-3 win over qualifier Kulikova in a tricky encounter that could have gone either way. “This girl is tough. She plays strong and she’s got such an all-round game that it gets difficult at times to gauge what she’s doing to do next,” Frech related.
“The main thing for me today is that I managed to finish off the match in two sets and conserve myself for tomorrow.”
Getting ready for next season
Making her sixth appearance here, the 24-year-old Pole will continue her preparations for the new season in Dubai, even after the $100,000 tournament concludes on Sunday.
“The idea is to keep going, and maybe win this trophy here. I am getting ready for the next season, so every match that I get here is important,” Frech admitted.
Singles: Anastasia Zakharova bt Anastasia Zolotareva 6-0, 6-1; Kristina Mladenovic bt Peangtarn Plipuech 6-4, 6-4; Magdalena Frech bt Anastasia Kulikova 6-2, 6-3; Viktoria Kuzmova bt Sophie Chang 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles: Alena Fomina-Klotz/Dalila Jakupovic bt Yu-Chieh Hsieh/Jessy Rompies 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-7; Jasmijn Gimbrere/Bibiane Schoofs bt Angelina Gabueva/Anastasia Zakharova 6-3, 6-2.