Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 21, 2024

Coco Heart! Fans rejoice as popular Gauff moves into quarterfinals at 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

World No. 3 progresses, but seeds continue to tumble as Ostapenko, Sakkari, and Samsonova all lose on dramatic day of WTA 1000 action at Dubai Tennis Stadium

Dubai, UAE—February 21, 2024: World No. 3 Coco Gauff held her nerve in front of an expectant Centre Court crowd at Dubai Tennis Stadium tonight, fighting back from a set down to seal a nail-biting three-set win over the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova at the 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

With several seeds already ruthlessly dispatched by lesser-ranked opponents at this week’s WTA 1000 event, reigning US Open champion Gauff narrowly avoided becoming the latest big-name casualty as she moved into the quarterfinals after a rollercoaster battle that kept fans fixed to the edge of their seats.

Gauff started slowly as the powerful Pliskova broke the American’s serve twice in the first three attempts to cruise into a commanding 5-1 lead. With Gauff holding firm in game seven, Pliskova served out to take the first set, 6-2, in only 30 minutes.

An energised Gauff found her rhythm in the opening throes of the second set and raced into a 4-2 lead, before a contentious call halted play for more than five minutes. Gauff, serving at deuce, kicked a wicked serve out wide, which the line umpire incorrectly called out as Pliskova limply returned into the net. The American expected a successful challenge to result in her serving for the game at advantage, but French chair umpire Pierre Bacchi called for Gauff to repeat her first serve at deuce, insisting the call had been made prior to the Czech’s return. Visibly frustrated, Gauff asked Bacchi for the match supervisor to be called. He refused.

Despite her lengthy protestations, the 19-year-old was forced to repeat the point. As the increasingly vocal crowd cheered the American’s case, she belatedly held serve to go 5-2 up. Pliskova then held before breaking Gauff to reduce the deficit to 5-4. The Czech’s recovery proved short-lived, however, as No3 seed Gauff immediately broke back to clinch the second set 6-4.

Predictably, the third set was a much tighter affair, staying with serve through to 3-3. Displaying the spirit of a champion, Gauff upped the intensity at the critical moment, clinching three consecutive games to seal a memorable 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Dissecting the contentious call after the match, Gauff said: “I’m going to watch the video back. I felt confident [the call] was after [Pliskova’s return], but it was only one point. It happens in tennis. Everyone makes mistakes, but it kind of went up for me from there. I was telling myself to stay calm, because when I get angry I sometimes go for it too much. Maybe I dragged it out a little longer than I needed to, but at the end of the day I did what I felt was right at the time.”

As big names continued to fall in the hyper-competitive WTA 1000 event, Gauff progresses into a quarterfinal clash with Anna Kalinskaya, who defeated 2022 Dubai champion and world No. 9 Jelena Ostapenka, 6-4, 7-5, earlier in the day.

Joining Gauff and Kalinskaya in the last eight are No. 7 seed Marketa Vondrousova, who won six consecutive games while breezing past 12th seed Liudmilla Samsonova, 6-2, 6-2, and Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, who defeated world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka’s second-round conqueror Donna Vekic, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Earlier in the afternoon, Jasmine Paolini said she was “really confident” about her chances of further success in Dubai after knocking out No8 seed Maria Sakkari, 6-4, 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals. The 28-year-old’s latest victory over top-15 opposition—the Italian’s 27th on hard courts in the last calendar year—followed an impressive straight-sets win against Canadian Leylah Fernandez on Tuesday, and a first-round win over No. 11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Paolini admitted she is in strong spirits ahead of a quarterfinal clash with No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina, who triumphed, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4 over Poland’s Magdalena Frech today. “Yeah, I feel really confident,” said Paolini. “I don’t think about my opponent’s ranking, I just think about what I have to do on the court. I’m really confident and looking forward to the next match.”

Ahead of the hotly anticipated quarterfinal clash, Rybakina is unwilling to put herself under any unnecessary pressure following a 17th victory this year: “Well, I’m happy that I’m still winning matches,” said the Kazakh star, who won the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open and reached the final in Qatar last week. “I don’t know how much I can push and how much I can recover in this half-day, but it’s a good problem to have as no one expected me to play so many matches in the past two weeks.”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Tickets for both the ongoing women’s WTA Tour tournament and next week’s men’s ATP Tour event remain available to purchase at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.

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