Tuesday's OOP of WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai delivered a pure whole day tennis festive for the fans with all the 16 matches of the 2nd round containing the biggest names of the field starting their WTA 1000 campaign this year.
Another day in Dubai provided another tennis marathon. This time Belinda Bencic needed 3:26 hours to defeat Marta Kostyuk. The Swiss, ranked 3rd in WTA race list, was up a break in the opening set but did not close it and lost the long and intense tie-break with a score 7-9. Kostyuk used her momentum to take the early break in second set, leading to the 6th game when Bencic came back to the match. Another tie-break was needed, but this time it was the world's number 9 who prevailed. While first two long sets brought just 4 breaks in general, the decider started with 4 breaks in first 4 games. Bencic won the war of nerves, adding another break in 7th game which occured decisive and the Swiss advanced to the Round of 16 after epic battle where she was quite close to get upset by the Ukrainian who played really great against her favorized opponent.
Iga Swiatek does not stop, continuing her cracking run of form. The WTA ranking's leader played against Leylah Fernandez and gave away just two games to the Canadian, showing the same super-solid, stable and untouchable performance as during her on-court appearances in Doha where the Pole took her first title of the year. Liudmila Samsonova is the next stop. The Russian who fought an incredible battle against Paula Badosa in the first round, this time did not need to come out on the court, as her opponent Qinwen Zheng withdrew before the match.
Aryna Sablenka played her first match as a Grand Slam champion today, showing up on the court with an impressive performance. The world's number two gave away just one game to Lauren Davis, defeating the American 6-0 6-1 after just one hour of play. Sabalenka seems to keep his fabulous form which gave her the Australian Open title. The Belarusian is full of confidence ahead of the following tournaments, admitting that she has a goal to become the WTA ranking's leader this year. She will play an absolute top clash of R16 tomorrow, facing Jelena Ostapenko who defeated Linda Fruhvirtova in another one-sided match 6-2 6-0.
Karolina Pliskova eliminated the tournament's seed #6 Maria Sakkari in a surprisingly one-sided match. Former world's number one beaten the Greek 6-1 6-2 in just 70 minutes. It was a horrid performance from Sakkari, who got broken in all of her first 5 service games of the match, making just no trouble for Pliskova who plays a really good season so far, winning 13 out of 17 matches in 2023.
Another high seed who got eliminated in her first match in Dubai is Caroline Garcia. The world's number 5 got defeated by Madison Keys in straight sets 7-5 6-4. It was not as much one-sided match as both described above, but Garcia was struggling with her game, never being on a front foot on the court today.
Victoria Azarenka will be the opponent of Keys in the Round of 16. The two times Grand Slam champion fought a huge comeback in her match against Amanda Anisimova. The American, who managed to win just 2 matches in 2023 clinched the opening set despite Azarenka taking the break advantage twice. The Belarusian who was the pre-match favorite (average odd 1.50) faced the first danger of losing the match in second set, as Anisimova earned the early break. This time it was the Belarusian who turned over the set and moved into decider.
Third set of this match must be a huge disappointment for Anisimova. The American was up a break three times, as both the players shared 6 games in a row without winning a serve. Anisimova who was leading 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3 did not manage to capitalize her advantage any time. The match was decided in a tie-break, where the experienced Azarenka prevailed 7-5 and won this battle full of plot twists after 2:45 hours.
Jessica Pegula needed a little bit more time than expected to defeat Viktoriya Tomova. The world's number started her match as expected with a 6-2 win in an opening set, but the Bulgarian raised up her level really well in second set, making a surprise by moving match into decider. The Bulgarian needed as many as 7 set-points to make it, but prevailed to make some trouble for the best ranked American. The finalist of last week's WTA 500 in Doha was unbeatable in the third set tough, winning it 6-1 and advancing into next round after 2 hours.
Elena Rybakina and Cori Gauff wil set-up a super interesting match-up between two current top 10 players in tomorrow's Round of 16 line-up. Rybakina defeated Marie Bouzkova, while Gauff routined Aliaksandra Sasnovich, both in straight sets.