Doha: Naomi Osaka makes QF without fight, Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina also progress

Osaka, Swiatek and Rybakina all set to feature in the Doha quarterfinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Doha: Naomi Osaka makes QF without fight, Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina also progress
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Naomi Osaka has been through to her first WTA quarterfinal since 2022 March, while Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina have also made the last eight in Doha. 

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, was scheduled to play against world No. 37 Lesia Tsurenko on Wednesday in the Doha round-of-16. But Osaka and Tsurenko never took the court after the Ukrainian gave a walkover to the Japanes due to an elbow injury.

Following the Tsurenko walkover, Osaka made her first WTA quarterfinal since 2022 Miami, when she reached the final at the tournament before losing to Swiatek in the final. 

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

23 months later, Osaka is set to play again in a WTA quarterfinal as the former world No. 1 will be taking on Karolina Pliskova in her next Doha match. When they meet in Doha, it will be their seventh meeting as Pliskova has a 4-2 head-to-head against Osaka. Earlier this year in Osaka's first post-pregnancy tournament, Osaka was up by a set against Pliskova before the Czech stormed back to win 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-4. 

In Brisbane, Osaka made a strong start against Pliskova before her level dropped and she lost in three sets. When she faces Pliskova in Doha again, there is no doubt that Osaka will be determined to beat Pliskova and get her revenge and make her first really big result since launching her post-pregnancy comeback.

Swiatek ousts Ekaterina Alexandrova

Swiatek, the top-seeded player in Doha, clinched her second straight-set win at this year's Doha edition as the Pole ousted No. 14 seed Alexandrova 6-1 6-4.

Early in the match, Swiatek faced pressure on her serve but managed to save two break points in the first game of the match. After avoiding going down by an early break, Swiatek broke Alexandrova in the second and sixth games en route to winning the first set with just one lost game.

In the second set, Swiatek also faced some early pressure but again managed to save four break points in the second game. After saving four early break points, Swiatek earned the first break of the set in the seventh game to go up by a set and a break. In the 10th game, Swiatek struggled a bit before closing out the match as the Pole saved two break points before converting her fourth match point. 

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

For a place in the Doha semifinal, Swiatek plays against the winner of the match between Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko. If Swiatek meets Ostapenko, that could be a really tricky matchup for Swiatek, considering that she has zero wins and four losses against the Latvian. 

Rybakina survives a scare against Emma Navarro

While Osaka progressed without any fight and Swiatek got the job done in straight sets, Rybakina was made to work hard on Wednesday as the third-seeded Kazakh needed three sets to beat world No. 23 Navarro 6-1 6-7 (6) 6-4.

Rybakina actually made an emphatic start to the match, earning three consecutive breaks for a 5-0 lead. Rybakina failed to serve out for the first set in the sixth game but broke Navarro again in the seventh game to seal the opener.

After winning the first set, Rybakina lost her serve in the third game but managed to get the break back three games later in the sixth game. As no more breaks were seen, the second set went into a tie-break, where saved a match point before converting her first set point to send the match into a decider.

Luckily for Rybakina, she was able to bounce back after losing a tight second set as the Kazakh claimed a break in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. That one break of serve in the third set was enough for Rybakina, who saved two break points when serving for the match in the 10th game before realizing her second match point.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

“We played a long time ago. We both were young. She improved a lot. It was such a difficult match. I had some opportunities in the second set, but she played really well. For me physically it was a bit more difficult. It’s been tough. I’m really happy I managed to win in the end," Rybakina said after beating Navarro.

In the Doha quarterfinal, Rybakina plays against Leylah Fernandez, who defeated Zheng Qinwen. When Rybakina, 24, and 21-year-old Fernandez meet, it will be their first meeting. Although 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina has never played against 2021 US Open runner-up Fernandez, she has nothing but respect for the Canadian.

“I know how she plays. It’s gonna be a very difficult match. Lefty, a tricky opponent. For me the most important is to try and recover and be as fresh as possible for tomorrow's match," Rybakina said of facing Fernandez.

Naomi Osaka Iga Swiatek Elena Rybakina
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