The two-time defending Dubai champion Elina Svitolina has stayed on the title course after a commanding 6-1, 6-2 win over Garbine Muguruza in 62 minutes, the fifth over the Spaniard in eight matches and also the third in a row.
Serving at only 50%, Elina drew the most from her initial shot, defending the second serve superbly and facing only one break point in the entire match. Gabrine converted it but that would never be enough with the way she served, dropping almost 60% of the points in her games and giving the serve away five times from eight opportunities offered to the Ukrainian.
Muguruza has been playing on a poor level for months and she was very frustrated with her game today and 35 unforced errors made in such a short match. Elina settled into a beautiful rhythm right from the start, breaking the rival three times and closing the opener after a service winner in game seven for a 6-1.
The 6th seed lost six points on serve in set number two and Muguruza was nowhere near that pace, spraying a backhand error in the third game and losing serve again at love in game five to find herself 4-1 down. Serving for the win at 5-2, Elina held after a deuce to cross the finish line, sealing the deal with a forehand drive-volley winner to set Carla Suarez Navarro where she is the favorite as well.
A former world no. 7 Belinda is through to the quarters after a thrilling 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 victory over the 8th seed Aryna Sabalenka in two hours and 26 minutes, fending off no less than six match points in the deciding set to prevail in one of the most epic wins she scored in the last couple of years.
Aryna held everything under control, winning the opening set and mastering the pace in the third, creating 15 break points and converting five of those to come on the verge of victory. Belinda probably doesn't know how she pulled the win in this one, hitting 13 double faults and no aces, struggling on the second serve to suffer five breaks and breaking Aryna on four occasions to somehow reach the tie break and emerge at the top.
The Swiss drew first blood with a return winner in game three, extending the lead to 4-1 with a break at love and closing the opener when Sabalenka fired a forehand long for a 6-4 after 43 minutes. Aryna turned the things around at the start of the second set when she painted a forehand down the line winner for a 2-0 lead, securing the set with another break in game eight to gather momentum before the decider.
They traded breaks in games four and five before Aryna moved 5-3 up with another one, wasting a match point in the following game to keep Belinda alive. The Swiss repelled three more match points in games ten and 12 to reach the tie break where she was 6-5 and 7-6 down.
It wasn't to be for Sabalenka, though, wasting them all and sending Bencic over the top when she sent a backhand long in the 16th point, frustrated after one of the most painful defeats in a career.