Taiwanese-Czech top seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova on Wednesday remained on track to claim a second title in the Middle East in a week, while Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur dumped world No. 3 Karolina Pliskova out of the singles at the Qatar Open.
Hsieh and Strycova, who lifted the doubles trophy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday last week, took just 65 minutes to wrap up a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of unseeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Sofia Kenin of the US at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.
The top seeds saved two of three break points and converted all four they created, winning 70 percent of points on their second serve to advance to a semi-final against Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, after the fourth seeds crushed Cagla Buyukakcay and Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-2 in 57 minutes.
The top seeds defeated the Czech duo in a feisty semi-final at the Australian Open last month and have a 2-0 career record against them after a victory at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, last year.
In the singles, while Jabeur celebrated her upset victory, top seed Ashleigh Barty received a walkover.
The Tunisian Australian Open quarter-finalist came through a tight match against Pliskova, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final against Petra Kvitova.
Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in Melbourne, was broken when leading 4-2 in the deciding set, but hit back immediately, before claiming her first win over a top-10 player since 2018.
The 25-year-old managed to see out the win, despite appearing to struggle with a hamstring injury in the closing games.
“I had a sharp pain on my hamstring, right hamstring, when I was going for the forehand at 4-2 my serve,” Jabeur told the WTA Web site. “I didn’t really want to call the physio, so people would not think that I’m doing it on purpose, and plus I didn’t want to break the rhythm I was trying to maintain.”
“I mean Petra is Petra. She plays unbelievable and she’s a tough player,” Jabeur said of her quarter-final. “Hopefully, my hamstring will be better. I’m going to do my best tonight to recover and honestly I think it’s going to be a great match.”
Earlier, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova had battled past former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
Czech left-hander Kvitova, the world No. 11, has not lost to a player ranked outside the top 40 since last year’s US Open, but said that she struggled in the windy conditions.
“There’s no chance to have tactics in this wind,” Kvitova said. “The wind changes everything. I tried to stay there, to be patient, but sometimes it’s a little difficult.”
Barty had been expecting a tough round-of-16 encounter against in-form Elena Rybakina, who has reached four WTA Tour finals already this season, but the world No. 17 withdrew from the tournament through injury.
Barty was to face Garbine Muguruza for a semi-final spot after the Australian Open runner-up saw off Ukrainian youngster Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-4.
Swiss fourth seed Bencic cruised past Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 6-3 and was due to face Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters after the Russian veteran was also the beneficiary of a walkover after teenager Amanda Anisimova pulled out.
Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka thrashed Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-0 to set up a clash with China’s Zheng Saisai, who knocked out seventh seed Kiki Bertens.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
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