Dubai: Two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina stayed on course for a hat-trick of titles when she got the better of Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, late on Thursday.

Back-to-back champion here in 2017 and 2018, the sixth-seeded world number six from Ukraine took her chances to come through 6-2, 6-3 against a gutsy Suarez Navarro before an appreciative weekend crowd at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Svitolina was the last of the semi-finalists and will now take on Swiss girl Belinda Bencic, a surprising 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 winner against 2015 champion Simona Halep.

Earlier in the day, the unheralded Su-wei Hsieh had stunned fourth seed Karolina Pliskova in three sets and second seed Petra Kvitova had eased her way past Viktoria Kuzmova to decide the semi-final in the upper draw.

“Another good day, so I’m very pleased with the way I played today. It was very tough. I was expecting a tough match. She made me work for every ball. In the end, I was very solid and happy the way I played,” Svitolina admiited.

The 24-year-old Ukrainian who is making her fifth straight appearance in Dubai, is headed towards a history chapter that can be all hers if she wins a third title on Saturday. “I’ve tried to put it on the side. Of course, it’s a very nice motivation. At same time, I’m here to win as many matches as I can. For me every match is another story. I try to be ready for it physically and mentally, and then what happens, will happen,” she shrugged.

“For the moment, I want to just focus on what I have to do in my next match. The semi-final is going to be another tough one. For me, it’s just important to take one match at a time and not look so much ahead. I’m going to give everything to play my best tennis. This matters the most for me. I’ve been working on this for a long time,” Svitolina smiled.


Singles: Su-wei Hsieh bt Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; Petra Kvitova bt Veronika Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0; Belinda Bencic bt Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; Elina Svitolina bt Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-3.

Doubles: Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova bt Gabriela Dabrowski/Yifan Xu 6-7, 6-3, 1-0 (3); Lara Arruabarrena/Kaitlyn Christian bt Jelena Ostapenko/Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (8); Su-wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova bt Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Demi Schuurs 6-2, 6-4; Hao-ching Chan/Latisha Chan bt Darija Jurak/Raluca Olaru 6-4, 7-5.

Friday Order of Play

Centre Court (Start at 2 pm) Lara Arruabarrena/Kaitlyn Christian vs Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova; (Not before 5 pm) Su-wei Hsieh vs Petra Kvitova; (Not before 7 pm) Elina Svitolina vs Belinda Bencic; Su-wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova vs Hao-Ching Chan/Latisha Chan.