Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Top seed Simona Halep kept on track to claim a second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title when she defeated seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-2 6-2 in Thursday’s quarter-finals.
Elena Rybakina claimed her first win over a Top 5 opponent when she defeated world No.4 Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (1) 6-3, and she was joined by qualifier Jennifer Brady, who in another upset overcame Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-4. Eighth seed Petra Martic overcame Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4) 6-1.
In the semi-finals, Halep will play American Brady and Martic will face Rybakina.
Halep, who won the title in 2015, had saved a match point before overcoming Ons Jabeur in their previous round, and she was again taken to three sets by Sabalenka.
“Well, at the beginning it was a little bit fast everything, too powerful. Since I got the rhythm, it was much easier for me to feel the game. I think I played quicker in the second set and third set. She didn’t have time to stay and to hit the ball. So I think that was the key of the match,” said Wimbledon champion Halep, who was pretty fired up in another fierce battle.
“Emotionally I’m really good. It’s good to have tough matches. I’m here to give everything I have to win every match I play. I’m happy with these matches,” added the top seed, before stating with a smirk “I need one match in two sets.”
— WTA (@WTA) February 20, 2020
Earlier on Thursday Martic advanced to the semi-finals without dropping a set in any of her three matches this week. After struggling to gain the upper hand in the first set, No.8 seed Martic took control in the second but made sure she kept on her toes.
“Was tough throughout the match,” said Martic, who had never won a main draw match in her three previous times competing in Dubai. “I mean, she’s hitting really hard. Had to stay alert because she was attacking my serve. If you kind of let go, dropping your focus, she’s back in the game in no time. I just tried to be sharp out there from the first to the last point. I think I did it pretty well.”
“Simona Halep has demonstrated once again how very difficult it is to beat her, and that is why she is ranked as the second best player in the world at the present time,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We congratulate her on reaching the semi-finals, as well as Petra Martic who has yet to drop a set.
“Elena Rybakina has been enjoying a remarkable season and we have been very impressed with the progress she has made here this week. It will be very interesting to see if she can continue her fantastic start to 2020 and reach her fourth final of the year this weekend. Jennifer Brady too has impressed us with her upset of two of the players who began the tournament as a possible champion.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “Every day this week has produced some great surprises and excellent performances from players who may not have been familiar to Dubai tennis fans. It is one of the attractions of the tournament that fans can enjoy not only the very top players, but new faces who are stars of the future.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The tournament continues with the WTA event until 22nd February and is then followed between 24th and 29th February by the ATP tournament which features Wimbledon and Australian Open champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 Rotterdam and Montpellier champion Gael Monfils and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut.
— WTA (@WTA) February 20, 2020