The Dubai Open draw was a study in contrast on Tuesday as seeds in the top half exited in droves on Tuesday. Svetlana Kuznetsova stunned two-time former champion and top-seed Elina Svitolina in the latter’s opener. The Russian dropped the opening set but scripted a massive turnaround as she claimed a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 win in an hour and 52 minutes.
After her win, speaking with the press, Kuznetsova said, “I was feeling so stressed out there in the first set. I couldn't make any balls. The feeling was terrible and I was just focussing on trying to make two or three shots in to see how I can go, how I can regroup”.
In the third round, Kuznetsova will play Barbora Krejcikova. The Czech defeated Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-1 in their second-round match. Krejcikova’s compatriot, Tereza Martincova ousted the fifth seed Kiki Bertens in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 in the second round.
Martincova will play Coco Gauff in the pre-quarter-finals. The American upset 12th seed and another Czech player, Marketa Vondrousova 3-6, 6-0, 6-4. Gauff’s last seven matches have now gone the distance with her winning six of these.
Her only loss came against Belinda Bencic in the semi-final of Adelaide International in February. Speaking of Bencic, the Swiss had to fight hard to avoid the same fate as her seeded peers. In her second-round match against Veronika Kudermetova, Bencic claimed a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win in two hours and 38 minutes.
The world no. 12 will next play Anastasia Potapova who upset 11th seed Madison Keys 6-4, 6-3. Ons Jabeur also advanced to the round-of-16 after an upset over 14th seed and defending finalist, Elena Rybakina. The Tunisian won 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2.
In the third round, Jabeur will play Jil Teichmann, who moved into the third round after her opponent, fourth seed Petra Kvitova was forced to stop the match with an adductor injury. Kvitova, who was playing in Dubai after her success at the Qatar Total Open last week, said that she had been dealing with an adductor injury since the semi-final in Doha.
“Unfortunately, since my semi-final in Doha I felt my (right) adductor and in the second set it got a little bit worse and I could no longer move the way I wanted and I didn't want to get it even worse. I'm disappointed how it ended today and that I couldn't be more in the tournament here in Dubai,” Kvitova shared.
Dubai Open: Karolina Pliskova survives
Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the Dubai Open draw, seeds progressed without much ado. Eighth seed Iga Swiatek and ninth seed Garbine Muguruza set up a blockbuster pre-quarter-final after coming through their respective round-of-32 matches.
Swiatek defeated Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-4 while Muguruza claimed a 6-4, 6-2 win over Amanda Anisimova. This will be the first time the two will be playing against each other. Anett Kontaveit seeded 15th, and third seed Aryna Sabalenka will play each other for a place in the quarter-finals.
The Estonian defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 7-5 in their second-round match. Sabalenka posted a 6-2, 6-4 win against Alize Cornet. Caroline Garcia and 10th Elise Mertens will play each other in the third round. The Frenchwoman defeated Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-4 while Mertens beat Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-3.
The last third-round match at the Dubai Open will see Jessica Pegula square off against second seed Karolina Pliskova. The American beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-2 while Pliskova was made to work by Anastasija Sevastova.
Finally, after two hours and nine minutes, Pliskova claimed a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2 win over the Latvian. Photo Credit: Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships