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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Dubai Tennis: Belinda Bencic beats Aryna Sabalenka in epic clash

Swiss star joins Svitolina, Pliskova, Halep and Kvitova in quarter-finals as Kerber crashes out

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland took three sets to beat Bulgaria's Aryna Sabalenka in Dubai on Wednesday night. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Belinda Bencic of Switzerland took three sets to beat Bulgaria's Aryna Sabalenka in Dubai on Wednesday night. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Belinda Bencic survived six match points on her way to shocking No 8 seed Arnya Sabalenka at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday night.

The 21-year-old won 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 to set up a quarter-final clash with world No 2 Simona Halep on Thursday.

The Swiss had started superbly, breaking Sabalenka twice to move 5-1 up in the first set.

Sabalenka got one break back, but the world No 37 held her nerve to take the set.

Sabalenka dominated the second set, with breaks in the second and eighth games allowing her to level things.

Bencic showed real steel to survive Sabalenka's pressure in the final set, twice coming from a break down and staving off four match points to take it to a tie-break.

She saved two more match points before winning the tie-break 9-7 as Sabalenka hit a forehand long.

Elina Svitolina crushed Garbine Muguruza's Dubai hopes by defeating her in straight sets on Wednesday night. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Elina Svitolina crushed Garbine Muguruza's Dubai hopes by defeating her in straight sets on Wednesday night. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Svitolina powers past Muguruza

Defending champion Elina Svitolina charged through to the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship with a dominant victory over Garbine Muguruza.

The Ukrainian was rarely in trouble against the two-major winner as she cantered through 6-1, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final with Carla Suarez Navarro on Thursday.

Svitolina is bidding to be the first woman to win the Dubai title three years in a row and the success over Muguruza was her 11th successive victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic was severely tested by the American Alison Riske in Dubai on Wednesday. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic was severely tested by the American Alison Riske in Dubai on Wednesday. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Pliskova passes Riske test

Karolina Pliskova survived a gruelling encounter with Alison Riske to reach the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-finals.

The world No 5 triumphed 7-6, 7-6 against her American opponent on Centre Court in an encounter that ran for more than two hours.

The first set went with serve and it was Pliskova who took it on the tie-break 7-3.

Both women began to get a read on their rival's service in the second set and there was two breaks each.

Pliskova had the chance to serve out at 6-5 but was broken to love by the world No 51 and the match went to a second tie-break.

The Czech, a 2015 finalist in Dubai, raised her game and sealed victory when Riske double faulted on her second match point.

Pliskova will face Hsieh Su-Wei on Thursday in the last eight.

Angelique Kerber of Germany suffered a shock last-16 loss at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships. EPA
Angelique Kerber of Germany suffered a shock last-16 loss at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships. EPA

Kerber capitulates

Angelique Kerber capitulated to a shock loss at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, losing 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 to Hsiesh Su-Wei.

The German world No 7 lost the final eight games of the second-round clash on Court 1 to her Taiwanese opponent.

Serve proved to be Kerber's weakness as the three-time grand slam champion was broken seven times by the world No 31.

Hsiesh will play the winner of the match between No 4 seed Karolina Pliskova and Alison Riske in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Simona Halep overcame a wobble in the second set to reach the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Lesia Tsurenko.

Simona Halep of Romania in action against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine during their third round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2019. EPA
Simona Halep of Romania in action against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine during their third round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2019. EPA

The world No 2 had looked to be cruising through to the last eight when she won the first set in just 36 minutes.

A final set appeared to be in the offing, however, when she was broken in the ninth game of the second set. But The 2015 Dubai champion hit back by winning the next three games, breaking her Ukrainian opponent twice, to set up a match with either No 8 seed Aryna Sabalenka or Belinda Bencic on Thursday.

Petra Kvitova failed to convince again in one of the day's earlier matches, but did enough to reach the quarter-finals.

The world No 3 defeated American Jennifer Brady 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in the third round.

It was her second successive three-set match after she struggled to beat compatriot Katerina Siniakova 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

The 2013 Dubai winner was broken first in the opening set by the world No 66 but bounced back with two breaks to take the set.

Kvitova's game then seemed to fall apart in the second set as Brady won the first five games before taking the set 6-1.

Kvitova managed to stem the tide after saving break point in the opening game of the final set, and that seemed to spur on the double Wimbledon champion, who broke Brady's next service game.

That proved decisive for the 28-year-old Czech as she saw out the victory.

Kvitova will face either American Sofia Kenin or Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova in the quarter-finals.

Updated: February 20, 2019 11:40 PM

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