Wednesday action of WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai was packed with all the Round of 16 matches, which settled the quarterfinals line-up out of the matchups between the top players in the WTA field.
Unfortunately, one of the most exciting matches did not came to fruition, as Elena Rybakina withdrew from the further competition in Dubai due to the low back injury. The Kazakh was already feeling not best during her previous matches, but it not prevented her from eliminating notable names as Bianca Andreescu and Marie Bouzkova without losing a single set in two matches.
The bad luck of reigning Wimbledon champion gave the place in quarterfinals for Cori Gauff, who will set up the all-American pairing with Madison Keys. The world's number 23, who has already made an upset on tournaments seed #4 Caroline Garcia, defeated Victoria Azarenka after an impressive performance. The American gave away just 3 games for double Grand Slam champion, eliminating the Belarusian with a score 6-2 6-1 after just 59 minutes of play.
It was not the only one single-track match today. Iga Swiatek, who got used the fans to crush her opponents during the middle-east swing, displayed another blasting performance, defeating Liudmila Samsonova 6-1 6-0. Start of the match between the WTA dominator and world's number 11 did not foreshadow the same turn of events as in previous matches of the Pole, though. Swiatek won her first two service games after deuces, and Samsonova was really trying to trade blows. This plan was working until the 4th game, when Swiatek gained the first break in the match. Since then, the Pole won all the remaining games. However, the final score does not reflect the course of the match, because 4 out of 5 breaks gained by Swiatek were conquered after even games ended on deuces. Especially the third game of second set was very intense, as Swiatek broke after 7 deuces, converting her 6th breakpoint in this game. Samsonova was not giving up almost till the end, but even the tight games ended with the same story.
As it occured later, Swiatek needed 77 minutes not just to advance into quarterfinal, but she is the first semifinalist of WTA 1000 tournament this year. Karolina Pliskova who overcame Anhelina Kalinina in three sets after 2:48 hours, was supposed to play against Swiatek tomorrow, but pulled out of the tournament in the late afternoon giving the walkover for the Pole. Pliskova was close to finish her match quite earlier, as she won the first set 7-5 and was serving for the victory in 12th game of second set, having two match-points on her serve. Kalinina managed to come out of trouble and forced the tie-break, which was won by her 8-6. The Czech routined her opponent in the decider though, winning it 6-2. The fans can feel sorry, that the match between Swiatek and Pliskova will not happen, as the Czech is in a really good run of form right now, winning 13 out of her 18 matches in 2023 so far. Nevertheless, Swiatek would be a huge favorite for tomorrow, considering her impressive run of crushing wins against recognized opponents and their last meeting in WTA 1000 Rome final two years ago, which ended up... 6-0 6-0 for Swiatek.
Aryna Sabalenka survived a serious test in today's match against Jelena Ostapenko. The match which was foreshadowed as the clash between the most hard-hitting players in the tour has not disappointed. Ostapenko started surprisingly well, winning the first set 6-2. The Australian Open 2023 champion was really struggling with her serve. Sabalenka lost three service games in a row while missing most of her first serves, with just 42% of first serve accuracy and winning only 4 out of 10 points after first serve landed. Second set was a turnover which showed, that the Belarusian can be untouchable when she clicks her gear properly. The serve started to work brilliantly for her, with 75% accuracy in second and 65% in third set. She was hitting the winners frequently and allowed the Latvian to produce just one breakpoint in third set, with no single one in second set. Ostapenko had just no response for the true level of Sabalenka's game. The aggressive and effective play of world's number two gave her two quick set wins with 6-1 score in both and the advance into quarterfinal after just 1:42 hours despite playing a three-setter.
Barbora Krejcikova will be Sabalenka's opponent in tomorrow's quarterfinal after winning the all-Czech clash against another Grand Slam champion - Petra Kvitova. It was quite a one-sided match, won by Krejcikova 6-3 6-2 in 75 minutes with a really solid performance. The younger of Czechs allowed her fellowcountry to produce and convert just one breakpoint throughout whole the match.
Jessica Pegula will face Karolina Muchova in third of the QF matches planned to be played on Thursday. The American routined Ana Bogdan 6-4 6-3 with no surprise, despite being a 0-3 down with a break after start of the match. Quite a notable surprise was performed by Muchova though. The Czech who successfully comes back after the injury, overplayed Belinda Bencic 6-1 6-4. The Swiss was seemingly run out of energy after her yesterday's stunning 3,5 hours marathon won against Marta Kostyuk. It is the biggest win of Muchova after her come back, which results with advancing to the top 100 again after the tournament.