Svitolina Bids for Third Dubai Triumph

The Dubai Tennis Championships begin on March 7. We'll be giving this tournament plenty of coverage and it promises to be an exciting week of tennis.

Contents

Introduction

Elina Svitolina is the top seed and has won this title twice in the past. She's not in the best of form though and will face tough opposition from players including recent winner Iga Swiatak, Petra Kvitova and Aryna Sablenka.

There are some notable absentees for these Dubai Tennis Championships. Injury has ruled out Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep (who won this title last year). Victoria Azarenka is also doubtful after pulling out of this week's Qatar Total Open. Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and Serena Williams are also absent but there's still a strong line-up for this tournament as you can see from the seedings.

Top Seeds

1 Elina Svitolina - lost in second round

2 Karolina Pliskova - lost in third round

3 Aryna Sablenka  - beaten in quarter finals

4 Petra Kvitova - lost in round two

5 Kiki Bertens - lost in round two

6 Belinda Bencic - lost in round three

7 Victoria Azarenka (withdrew due to back injury)

8 Iga Swiatek - lost in third round

9 Garbine Muguruza - CHAMPION

10 Elise Mertens - lost in last four.

Previous Winners

Semi-Final Draw

The Title Contenders

Iga Swiatek

If this Polish teenager can get into good form early on in the tournament, it's bad new for everyone else. Swiatek has won two titles and both with dominating form.

That was shown last year when winning the French Open. Swiatek only lost 28 games in seven matches. That may have been on clay but the Pole is a top quality players on hard courts too. That was shown last month when winning the Adelaide Classic with another impressive performance and no sets lost. That followed a last sixteen at the Australian Open where she lost to Simona Halep.

Swiatek rose to 15th in the world after her Adelaide win. She didn't play this week so will have recovered from that effort. The Pole is seeded eighth for the Dubai Tennis Championship and is a strong contender to win the title. Not an easy draw though with that possible clash with Garbine Muguruza in the last 16.

Elina Svitolina

Svitolina has won this title but will need to show improved form if wanting to win another title. The world number five hasn't beaten a top 20 ranked player this year, so will need to up her game.

Her year began with a run to the last eight in both the Abu Dhabi tournament and the Gippsland Trophy. Svitolina beat Coco Gauff in the Australian Open but lost in the last 32 to in-form Jessica Pegula. Another quarter final appearance was made in the Qatar Total Open this week but she lost to Victoria Azarenka winning just six games. Perhaps the return to Doha may inspire her to an improved performance?

Karolina Pliskova

The second seed and world number six is also struggling for form. 2021 started with a loss to world number 292 Anastasia Gasanova in Abu Dhabi. Not much better luck in the warm-up tournaments in Australia and then a loss in the last 32 of the Australian Open.

This week has seen her take part in the Qatar Total Open. She had a tough three-setter against Ons Jabeur before losing in the last eight to Jessica Pegula. Perhaps she'll share notes with Elina Svitolina on how to beat Pegula. An improved performance is needed to be in contention this week.

Aryna Sablenka

Sablenka has already won one tournament this year. Her success came in Abu Dhabi and continued the form shown at the end of last year. The Abu Dhabi triumph was her third straight tournament win following success in Austria and Ostrava.

Only the third round was reached at the Australian Open though but she did have to face Serena Williams. The Belarusian also had a tough draw in the Qatar Total Open tis week. She was seeded third but had to take on dangerous Garbine Muguruza in her first match and lost. A good performance can be expected this week though if the draw is kind to her.

Petra Kvitova

The fourth seed reached the 2019 final of this tournament. Unlike some players in this tournament, the Czech has beaten Jessica Pegula this year. Kvitova only made it to the last 64 of the Australian Open though. The Czech has returned to form this week though by winning the Qatar Total Open. She won the final against Garbine Muguruza for the loss of just three games.

Belinda Bencic

It was Bencic who beat Kvitova in the 2019 final. Her title defence didn't go well though, losing in the last 32 in 2020. That's the same round in which she lost at this year's Australian Open, being beaten by Elise Mertens. February ended well though with a run to the final of the Adelaide Classic, where she lost to Iga Swiatek in straight sets.

Perhaps that run to the final left her a bit tired. This week Bencic lost in the first round in Qatar. A first round draw against Madison Keys is never easy though and the Swiss player lost in straight sets. Rested, she may well be a title contender this week. However, a return match with Keys is possible in the last 16.

Garbine Muguruza

The Spanish  player has made a good start to the new year. The final of the Yarra Valley Classic was reached, losing to world number one Ashleigh Barty in the final. The Australian Open saw her lose in the last sixteen but it was to eventual winner Naomi Osaka. Muguruza has made her second final of the year this week. She reached the final of the Qatar Total Open on Saturday March 6 but lost to Petra Kvitova and won just three games. Seeded ninth for this tournament, no top eight seed will fancy facing her and the unlucky player has been Iga Swiatek.

An exciting week lies ahead of us. We'll have updates throughout the week, so keep coming back to this page to see how the tournament progresses.

Daily Updates

Sunday March 7

The first day of action saw some tight three set matches. Not so in the upset of the day as 16th seeded Maria Sakkari lost in straight sets to Barbora Krejcikova. Sakkari was in the same part of the draw as number one seeded Elina Svitolina. Krejcikova could be a danger as she's already beaten Aryna Sabalenka this year. Her second round opponent will be either Patricia Maria Tig or Jelena Ostapenka. 

Svitolina now knows who she will face in the second round. After receiving a first round bye, the number one seed will take on Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat Qian Wang in three sets on Sunday.

Coco Gauff had to go to three sets to get past Ekaterina Alexandrova. The American dropped the middle set but won the first and last on tie-breaks. Two match points were saved before she clinched victory. Another tough match could be on its way in round two with 12th seeded Marketa Vondrousova her possible opponent.

There were also good wins for Ons Jabeur, Alice Cornet and Veronika Kudermetova. The latter now faces sixth seeded Belinda Bencic in round two.

Monday 8 March

Another seed fell early in the early matches on Day 2 of this tournament. 13th seeded Petra Martic lost in straight sets to Kristina Mladenovic. She takes on Jessica Pegula in the second round. The American is up eight places to 36 in the latest rankings and beat Yaroslava Shvedova in round one losing just three games. She's already faced Mladenovic once this year, beating her 6-2 6-1 in the Australian Open.

Caroline Garcia defeated former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in three sets. The Spaniard had to come from a set down to get the win. Now she takes Martina Trevisan in the second round. The French player actually lost in the final qualifying round. With fourth seed Victoria Azarenka withdrawing, she comes into the main draw as a lucky loser.

Another lucky loser is Misaka Doi and the Japanese player has also made it to round two. She defeated Polona Hercog in three sets and now takes on eighth seed Iga Swiatek.

Tuesday 9 March

A massive shock in the second round as number one seed Elina Svitolina has been knocked out. The two-time winner of this tournament lost in three sets to unseeded Svetlana Kuznetsova. Svitolina won the first set but then lost the next two (she was 5-0 down at one stage) to exit the tournament.

Petra Kvitova won the Qatar Total Open last weekend. The Czech player is out of this event after retiring in the second set of her match against Jil Tiechmann. She'd lost the first set and was 4-3 up but decided she couldn't carry on.

It was a day of shocks with fifth seeded Kiki Bertens also losing. She could only win five games against qualifier Tereza Martincova who now faces Coco Gauff in the next round.

Eighth seeded Iga Swiatek is again in good form. The Pole beat Misaka Doi in straight sets and now takes on Garbine Muguruza in the last sixteen. The Spaniard beat Amanda Anisimova in her second round tie 6-4 6-2. Only seven seeds have made it through to the last sixteen. Will there be more shocks on Wednesday?

Wednesday 10 March

The answer is yes, more shocks are happening on a busy Wednesday. After today's matches we will know the quarter final line-up.

Second seeded Karolina Pliskova is out. She lost to the in-form Jessica Pegula losing 6-0 6-2. Pegula will now take on tenth seed Elise Mertens who beat Caroline Garcia 6-4 6-2.

Also out is sixth seed Belinda Bencic who lost in three sets to wild card Anastasia Potapova. Bencic won just one game in the first set but won the second 6-2. The final set went to Potapova to take her into the last eight. Will she be fit for that match though? Potapova suffered an eye injury during a doubles match later in the day and later retired injured.

The wild card will face Barbora Krejcikova who defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last 16. Her opponent had knocked out top seed Elina Svitolina yesterday but only won five games today.

Another confirmed quarter final is Jessica Pegula against tenth seeded Elise Mertens. The latter had a straight sets win over Caroline Garcia. Pegula continued her good form beating 

Third seeded Aryna Sabalenka is looking dangerous. She beat Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-2 and will face Garbine Muguruza who beat Iga Swiatek 6-0 6-4. Coco Gauff reached the quarter finals with a straight sets win over Tereza Martincova. 

Only one of the top eight seeds remains in the tournament after the matches completed before 1pm. There are no seeds left in the top half of the draw.

Thursday 11 March

It's quarter final day in the Dubai Tennis Championships. First through to the last four is Barbora Krejickova. The world number 63 is more a doubles specialist and reached the final of the Australian Open this year. Krejickova has also won the mixed doubles title in Australia for the past three years. She's through to the last four after beating Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-2. Her semi-final opponent is Jil Tiechmann who beat Coco Gauff in straight sets. That means an unseeded player is guaranteed in the final.

It looked as if Jessica Pegula was going to knock out tenth seed Elise Mertens. The American took the first set and served for the match in the second. Then her form totally collapsed and she lost 7-5 5-7 0-6. 

The comeback theme followed in the Sabalenka v Muguruza match. Third seeded Sabalenka won the first set and looked in command. The Spaniard fought back to win the next two sets for the loss of just five games. Muguruza now faces Mertens in the semi-final.

Friday 12 March

Garbine Muguruza has been in top form all week in Dubai. The Spaniard is the first player into the final after a straight sets win over Elise Mertens. The first set was won 6-4 and Muguruza clinched the match with a tie-break victory in the second set. It's her second successive final this year and her third overall. Both previous finals have been lost so she'll be hoping it will be third time lucky on Saturday. Her opponent will be Barbora Krejickova who defeated Jil Tiechmann in straight sets.

Saturday 13 March

It was third time lucky for Garbine Muguruza as she beat Barbora Krejcikova in the final. It was her third final of the year but her first title. The first set was a tight one but the Spaniard won it on a tie-break. The second set was won 6-3 to give her first title of 2021 and most likely not the last.

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