Al Habtoor Tennis: Frech downs Kulikova; Kuzmova beats Chang

Dubai resident Kristina Mladenovic once again had to put her best foot forward with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech

By Team KT

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Magdalena Frech of Poland in action. — Supplied photo
Magdalena Frech of Poland in action. — Supplied photo

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 12:10 AM

The remainder of the seeds all went through comfortably as the quarterfinal line-up fell in place at the 25th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge in Dubai on Thursday.

Defending champion and No.4 Daria Snigur and eighth seed Sinja Kraus had fallen in the first round itself.

However, led by Kristina Mladenovic, the nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion and the second seed here, the remainder of the big names advanced with seventh-seeded Anastasia Zakharova putting up the strongest show with a 6-0, 6-1 annihilation of qualifier Anastasia Zolotareva in under an hour.

No. 3 Magdalena Frech of Poland was also at her best with a smooth 6-2, 6-3 win over Finland’s Anastasia Kulikova, while No. 5 Viktoria Kuzmova breezed through 6-4, 6-2 against American Sophie Chang to ensure her spot in the last eight against Mladenovic.

Dubai resident Mladenovic, who had been stretched by qualifier Cristina Dinu on Tuesday, once again had to put her best foot forward with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech.

Mladenovic, a runner-up here when she lost in straight sets to Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in 2011, is keen to continue her winning run as she lined up another former runner-up and No. 5 Kuzmova in Friday’s quarter-final.

“She’s [Kuzmova] been a strong player always. She was top-50 once upon a time, and I am glad I’ve had these two matches under my belt to get ready for the tougher battles ahead,” Mladenovic stated.

“It’s the quarter-finals now and nothing is going to come easy. These will be top quality players now on, and I know what I can expect against Kuzmova. I am here to do my best and the results will follow for sure,” she added.

Earlier, Frech registered another straight-set result with a 6-2, 6-3 win over qualifier Kulikova in a tricky encounter that could have gone either way. “This girl is tough. She plays strong and she’s got such an all-round game that it gets difficult at times to gauge what she’s doing to do next,” Frech related.

“The main thing for me today is that I managed to finish off the match in two sets and conserve myself for tomorrow,” she added.

Making her sixth appearance here, the 24-year-old Polish girl will continue her preparations for the new season right here after this $100,000 tournament concludes on Sunday.

“The idea is to keep going, and maybe win this trophy here. I am getting ready for the next season, so every match that I get here is important,” Frech admitted.

Action will continue at 11 am on Friday with fifth seed Kuzmova facing No. 2 Mladenovic, while No. 3 Frech will take on No. 7 Zakharova. Entry to the competition taking place at the Habtoor Grand Resort is free.

RESULTS

Singles: Anastasia Zakharova bt Anastasia Zolotareva 6-0, 6-1; Kristina Mladenovic bt Peangtarn Plipuech 6-4, 6-4; Magdalena Frech bt Anastasia Kulikova 6-2, 6-3; Viktoria Kuzmova bt Sophie Chang 6-4, 6-2.


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