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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: Games to watch and predictions for Day 3

Karolina Pliskova, Jelena Ostapenko, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber all in action at the Aviation Club

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returns the ball to Catherine Bellis of the US as they compete in their singles match during the third round of the Qatar Open in Doha. Karim Jaafar / AFP
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returns the ball to Catherine Bellis of the US as they compete in their singles match during the third round of the Qatar Open in Doha. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Games to watch on Day 3 of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: (x-denotes seed).

3-Karolina Pliskova (CZE) v Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)

First match on Centre Court, 2pm

Karolina Pliskova reached the final in 2015 where she lost to Simona Halep, but she has not won a match in Dubai since. The world No 5 has had a solid, if unspectacular, start to 2018 and her power from the baseline should be too much for the experienced Carla Suarez Navarro.

Prediction: Pliskova in straight sets

Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia reacts during the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy tennis tournament match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in St.Petersburg. Dmitri Lovetsky / AP Photo
Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia reacts during the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy tennis tournament match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in St.Petersburg. Dmitri Lovetsky / AP Photo

Elena Vesnina (RUS) v 4-Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)

Second match on Centre Court

This has the potential for a surprise. Ostapenko has struggled, at least in singles play, to recapture the form that took her to the French Open title last year. If Vesnina, the world No 23, can stay in the rallies she has a decent chance of forcing errors from the world No 6, whose willingness to go for winners from all over the court can often be a curse as much a blessing if her radar is off, which it has been for much of 2018 so far.

Prediction: Vesnina in straight sets

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina makes a forehand return to Serbia's Ivana Jorovic during their first round match at the Australian Open. Ng Han Guan / AP Photo
Ukraine's Elina Svitolina makes a forehand return to Serbia's Ivana Jorovic during their first round match at the Australian Open. Ng Han Guan / AP Photo

1-Elina Svitolina (UKR) v Qiang Wang (CHN)

Third match on Centre Court

The No 1 seed Svitolina was honest about the fact she needs to work on her consistency after a season so far that has had the highs of winning in Brisbane to the lows of capitulating to the unseeded Elise Mertens in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Svitolina should have too much in her locker for her Chinese opponent, a qualifier, and this should be a routine match for the world No 4.

Prediction: Svitolina in straight sets.

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7-Johanna Konta (GBR) v Daria Kasatkina (RUS)

First night match on Centre Court - from 7pm

Daria Kasatkina has already impressed at the tournament by knocking out former world No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska on Monday in the first round. There is no reason why the world No 24 cannot repeat that performance against out-of-sorts Konta. The Briton failed to convince in beating Anastasia Pavluchenkova in the first round and the No 7 seed may well find an in-form Kasatkina too much to handle.

Prediction: Kasatkina in three sets

Garbine Muguruza takes on Cici Bellis in Dubai. Ibraheem Al Omari / Reuters
Garbine Muguruza takes on Cici Bellis in Dubai. Ibraheem Al Omari / Reuters

CiCi Bellis (USA) v 2-Garbine Muguruza (ESP)

Second night match on Centre Court

Cici Bellis was an impressive over Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday, with several searing forehand winners. She could trouble Muguzura, but the world No 3 should have the experience to navigate her way past her American opponent.

Prediction: Muguruza in straight sets

Japan's Naomi Osaka returns the ball to France's Kristina Mladenovic during day one of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. Karim Sahib / AFP
Japan's Naomi Osaka returns the ball to France's Kristina Mladenovic during day one of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. Karim Sahib / AFP

Anett Kontaveit (EST) v Naomi Osaka (JPN)

First match on Court One, 2pm

Kontaveit put in a roller-coaster performance in beating Samantha Stosur on Tuesday. Abject in the first set, the Estonian showed terrific resolve to fight back and take charge of the match, then suffered a late wobble before finally securing a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. Osaka will have the advantage of an extra day’s rest and that might make all the difference for the world No 48 to reach the quarter-finals.

Prediction: Osaka to triumph in three sets

Angelique Kerber of Germany returns the ball to Czech Barbora Strycova during the second day of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. Karim Sahib / AFP
Angelique Kerber of Germany returns the ball to Czech Barbora Strycova during the second day of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. Karim Sahib / AFP

Sara Errani (ITA) v 6-Angelique Kerber (GER)

Second match on Court One

Kerber demolished Barbara Strycova on Tuesday to reach the last 16, but it is difficult to weigh up how well the world No 9 is playing as Strycova struggled, particularly on her own serve. Errani, who has already played three games in Dubai after having to qualify for the main draw, will give her more of a test. But Kerber should go through to continue her return to form following an awful 2017.

Prediction: Kerber in straight sets

Caroline Garcia of Spain celebrates after she beats Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
Caroline Garcia of Spain celebrates after she beats Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo

5-Caroline Garcia (FRA) v Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)

Third match on Court One

Garcia had to work hard to see off Lucie Safarova in Wednesday’s late match. A semi-finalist in Dubai in 2016, the French player will fancy her chances of repeating that feat, or better, with the way the bottom half of the draw is opening up. Interestingly Makarova leads their head-to-head record 2-1, but her victories came in 2013 and 2014, with Garcia winning their most recent match-up in 2017 in straight sets, and a similar outcome should happen here.

Prediction: Garcia through in straight sets