Elena Vesnina, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber in quarter finals of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Jelena Ostapenko beaten 6-1 7-6 (6) by Elena Vesnina
Karolina Pliskova beat Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7 6-2 6-4
Naomi Osaka win 6-2 7-6 (5) over Anett Kontaveit
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko‘s wretched season continues as she was beaten 6-1 7-6 (6) by Elena Vesnina at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday. Although Vesnina dominated the first set the outcome of the second remained in doubt until the final ball.
Former world number one Karolina Pliskova struggled to reach the quarter-finals, taking over two hours to overcome Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7 6-2 6-4, and Angelique Kerber kept her winning streak alive by defeating Sara Errani 6-4 6-2.
Fourth seeded Ostapenko has yet to put a winning run together this season, losing her opening match in three tournaments before her latest setback, and she has now claimed just three wins in six tournaments. It was her second defeat in two meetings with Vesnina, who also beat her in Madrid in 2016 by winning the final 10 games. Vesnina will now contest her first quarter-final since Indian Wells almost a year ago, a tournament she went on to win.
Looking lethargic and making a multitude of errors, third seeded Pliskova dropped the opening set, hitting two double faults as her opponent broke serve for the set. Then after dominating the second set she had to fight hard to win the third, needing to save five of seven break points she faced.
“I was not playing the best tennis today,” Pliskova admitted. “We were both a little bit struggling. For me, first match here after couple days of practice, which I thought was quite fine. Didn’t have that many matches for last couple of weeks since I came from Melbourne. So just finding the rhythm of the matches. Finally I got the win, so maybe it’s better in the next match.
“For sure. I think those are the important wins in the season, not when you play the best tennis. It’s easy to win then. Wins like this… I don’t know how I’m going to do in this tournament, but maybe throughout the next part of the season it can be quite helpful for me.”
Sixth seed Angelique Kerber roared into the quarter-finals with a swift demolition of 2016 champion Sara Errani, taking just 64 minutes to win 6-4 6-2. Errani’s form has slumped of late and she was forced to come through the qualifying competition, and although she managed to win three matches to reach the main draw she was no match for one of the in-form players of the year.
Wild card Naomi Osaka had to fight hard to close out her match against Anett Kontaveit. She served for the match at 5-3 but then allowed her opponent to win the next three games and serve to level the match at one set all. But Osaka recovered and managed to break serve and then took the tiebreak to win 6-2 7-6 (5).
“Jelena Ostapenko surprised everyone in playing so well to win the French Open last year,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Her defeat by Elena Vesnina underlines the fact that no player, even a Grand Slam champion, is sure of success in such a competitive field.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “We are disappointed to lose Jelena Ostapenko, but it is exciting to see others such as Angelique Kerber playing so well and to witness Karolina Pliskova fighting her way to victory despite struggling with her game today. That is the mark of a true champion.”
The WTA event continues until 24th February and despite the loss of Ostapenko still features five of the world’s top 10, including Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, defending Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, 2018 Sydney champion and Australian Open semi-finalist Angelique Kerber, and 2016 US Open finalist and former world number one Karolina Pliskova.