Beatriz Haddad Maia and Yulia Putintseva delivered absolutely stunning show in second round of WTA 500 Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. The Brazilian emerged victorious in the duel which was the match of the tournament so far, and for sure one of the best specatcles in women's 2023 season.
Not only the whole match in general, but every set in particular was a rollercoaster full of plot twists, delightful shots and emotions. Haddad Maia, who was the pre-match favorite, started well with the early break. Since then, the set delivered two momentum switches. Putintseva won 4 games in a row moving into the lead, but after a while the Brazilian regained her momentum, also reaching the streak of 4 games won in a row. The world no. 14 was a dominant player in the decisive moments of first sets, as she was able to score 12 out of 13 points in three games in a row, including two service games of Putintseva.
The Brazilian was looking confident to capitalize her momentum, moving into a set and break up lead after three games of second set, holding her serves without an issue. 10th game was a major plot twist of the match, as Haddad Maia did not convert any of 4 match points in 8-deuces long game within own serve, allowing Putintseva to come back into the match. Haddad Maia broke her opponent once again, but was unable to serve out the win once again in 12th game, which cause with another tiebreak. This went on the favour of Putintseva, who forced a decider after set which was 89 minutes (!).
Haddad Maia has not discouraged herself despite bottling her chances and started 3rd set from 3-0 lead. Then, the Kazakh found the proper level to break her opponent twice and face the chance to win the set. 10th game was not the last in the set though, as the world's number 14 broke Putintseva. Set was settled in a tiebreak, where Putintseva was clearly ahead with 4-1 lead and double mini-break up. She blew this advantage though, as Haddad Maia won 5 points in a row and clinched the victory in the epic match which lasted 3:16 hours. Hats off for both the players for the spirit showed in the match full of emotional moments and plot twists played in the late evening in the almost empty stadium.
Thursday in Abu Dhabi was also a day when the biggest names of the tournaments started their campaign after getting a bye in 1st round. Australian Open's runner-up Elena Rybakina showed the signs of the brilliance displayed in just finished Grand Slam tournament, defeating Karolina Pliskova easily 6-4 6-2 in just 70 minutes. Rybakina showed great serving performance, facing just two breakpoints in 1st set and allowing her opponent to win just 4 points on return during whole the 2nd set. Rybakina and Haddad Maia will set up a wonderful QF match-up tomorrow.
Daria Kasatkina, tournament's seed #1, started her match against Jil Teichmann slowly, losing the opening set 1-6. The top 10 player showed her class since then, winning second set to love and snatching the deciding one 6-2 which brought 6 breaks out of 8 games. Kasatkina will face Qinwen Zheng in another interesting quarterfinal match on Friday.
Abu Dhabi was not the only one place delivering some tennis emotions today, as WTA 250 in Linz brought another long and emotional three-setter between Petra Martic and Alyson Van Uytvanck. The Croatian won 6-4 6-7 7-6 after 2:46 hours of play. It was good days for Croatians in Linz, as Donna Vekic proved her title ambitions, defeating Madison Brengle 6-3 6-1 to set-up the hit clash against Maria Sakkari in tomorrow's quarterfinal.