Former Dubai champions Kvitova, Radwanska and Williams sent packing

As two of the top four left in the round of 16, Ivanovic and Kvitova rallied back strongly in their concerted quests for quarterfinal berths to force deciders with 6-4 second-set scorelines.



By Alex Leach - Senior Reporter

Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 12:46 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:45 PM

Dubai — There were scalps aplenty at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships here as five of the top eight seeds in the women’s singles draw endured a wretched on Wednesday.

Lucie Safarova in action against Venus Williams during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis championships on Wednesday. — KT photos by Shihab 

With Agnieszka Radwanska (fifth) and Venus Williams (eighth) back in the locker room following routine 6-4, 6-2 reverses, it was left to Ana Ivanovic (four) and Petra Kvitova (two) to represent the top-ranked tier of this WTA event with — hopefully — more distinction on Centre and Court One respectively. Things didn’t start off well though in that regard, with Kvitova losing the first set to Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 and Ivanovic faring slightly worse (6-2) against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

As two of the top four left in the round of 16, Ivanovic and Kvitova rallied back strongly in their concerted quests for quarterfinal berths to force deciders with 6-4 second-set scorelines.

However, they were unable to buck the seeming trend established by the prior losses of Radwanska and Williams as Ivanovic was eliminated 6-4 in the third and 2013 Dubai champion Kvitova went down 6-3.  The latter, at least, saved three match points against Suarez Navarro before the recent Antwerp finalist finally converted at the fourth and final attempt.

Prior to the Kvitova-Suarez Navarro match, 10th seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta accounted for the German seventh seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Questions were asked of some of the vanquished quintet whether or not the unseasonably high temperatures for this time of year had played a part in their earlier-than-expected exits.

Nonetheless, there can be no denying that a heavy schedule of tournaments in Oceania and their Fed Cup commitments has left energy levels low, particularly in Radwanska’s case. To a woman, they all said the heat wasn’t a factor or — at least — didn’t wish to publicly use it as an excuse as it was the same on-court climate for their victorious opponents.

Pennetta will face either Danish third seed Caroline Wozniacki or the 2014 Dubai runner-up Alize Cornet, of France, for a place in the semis this (Thursday) afternoon.  The Cornet-Wozniacki match was taking place as Khaleej Times went to press last night.

Sixth-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova held up her end of the bargain by defeating Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 6-3, 6-4 first up over on Court One. Romanian top seed Simona Halep also lived up to the billing in overcoming Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-3 and she will subsequently tackle Makarova for a place in the last four.

The prospective quarter-final draw now looks decidedly lop-sided and open, with potentially Halep, Wozniacki, Makarova and Pennetta in the top half and not a single top-10 seed in the bottom.

Safarova (11th) is the highest-ranked player in the lower half followed by Suarez Navarro (13th), Pliskova (17th) and the unheralded Muguruza.

alex@khaleejtimes.com


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