DUBAI: Former champions Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova moved into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, but both had to overcome second set challenges. Halep emerged with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Lesia Tsurenko and Kvitova fought off qualifier Jennifer Brady to win 7-5 1-6 6-3.
Halep, who won the title in 2015, came through the opening set against Lesia Tsurenko in comfort despite there being six service breaks, as each sought to gain the upper hand. The world No. 2 then faced the prospect of a third set as her opponent served at 5-4 to level the match, but that merely resulted in Halep raising her game to another level as she responded by winning the final 12 points of the match.
“Yeah, very nice. Better for me because I didn’t want to play three sets so it was good that I could finish it,” said Halep. “I think when I lost some games in the second set, it was because I played too much in the middle. So I started to use less pace, less power, and opened the court more. She struggled in those directions.”
With a fourth round at the Australian Open, two Fed Cup wins and a run to the Doha final last week, Halep has played a lot of matches in recent weeks and is not keen on getting involved in long rallies and three-set battles.
“My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible,” she said. “I’m trying to be more aggressive. I feel good on court. I feel that my game is pretty strong, also physically, even if I’m tired a little bit. Yeah, I feel close to my highest level.”
For the second straight day 2013 champion Kvitova was drawn into a long three-set fight, with her two hour 34-minute match on Tuesday followed by a two hour 12-minute tussle with Brady. She was happy to once again emerge as the winner from two draining encounters.
“Definitely it’s a relief right now,” said Kvitova. “I tried to be quicker today than yesterday. I did little bit better, but still was pretty tough. The wind was just terrible today, to be honest. It was really difficult to kind of find a way with it. I couldn’t really serve well today at all.
“It’s been big struggle for me. I came here, I didn’t really have many days of practice, to be honest. I had something different to do in my life. I wasn’t really that prepared for this tournament. But I’m happy that I was able to get those two wins, which I think it’s great when you don’t playing your best and you still find a way to win it, which was yesterday and today as well.”
Kvitova will next play Viktoria Kuzmova, who rallied to overcome Sofia Kenin 1-6 7-5 6-2.
“Both Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova have risen to the top of the game due to their determination to never give up, and that was very much in evidence in their matches today,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We look forward to seeing how they progress in the days ahead.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “We continue to see great drama and outstanding competition from not only many of the best players in the world, but their less recognised opponents.”
The WTA event continues until 23rd February and features many of the world’s top players, including world No. 2 and reigning French Open champion Simona Halep, world No. 3, 2019 Sydney champion and Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina and 2019 Brisbane winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova all competing for the title.
Men’s Tournament to Follow
The sensational week of women’s tennis will be followed by an equally thrilling men’s event headed by seven-time champion Roger Federer, Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, defending champion and recent Doha winner Roberto Bautista Agut, former US Open winner Marin Cilic, Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori and two-time finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Sport Desk