Sabalenka storms into last-16; Jabeur fights back to advance

2022-02-23 | Since 1 Year


Doha, 23 February 2022 - Top seed Aryna Sabalenka got off to a flying start at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open as she crushed French wild card Alizé Cornet 6-2, 6-2 to cruise into the pre-quarter-finals in Doha.

While the Belarusian had a good day at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex, her compatriot Victoria Azarenka - a former champion - pulled out of the tournament due to a hip injury. Defending champion Petra Kvitova also had to cut short her Doha sojourn due to a wrist injury. 

Meanwhile, sixth seed Maria Sakkari advanced after a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ann Li of the US, while fan-favourite Ons Jabeur of Tunisia rallied to beat Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. 

However, the day belonged to Sabalenka, who did not face a single break point in her victory as she committed just 4 double faults and won 15 of 23 points on Cornet’s second serve. 

But the pre-event favourite gave full credit to Cornet after her win. 

“It definitely wasn’t easy. It was a really tough match to play. She played really well. She pushed me a lot and well, I just have an amazing support here. Thank you guys so much for the support,” Sabalenka said after her win. 

“I expected long rallies in this match and I prepared myself for this kind of rallies. The tactic was just to stay in the point as long as I can, push her as much as I can, and to serve well,” the Belarusian said. 

Meanwhile, in her first match since losing in the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy to Anett Kontaveit, Sakkari came from a break down in the second set to claim victory over Li. 

“It was a tricky match and especially a tricky second set, but I’m very glad with the way I played and the way I handled the pressure in the second set. She plays very well, she’s an upcoming player, so I’m very pleased with my performance. After a great run in Russia that didn’t end well, I’m very glad that I was able to come back strong here,” Sakkari said. 

The No.6 seed will now meet Jessica Pegula as the American defeated Slovenian Kaja Juvan 6-3, 6-3 to advance yesterday.

Earlier, Jabeur had to fight hard against Sasnovich to book berth in the last-16 stage. 

The Tunisian star saved three break points at 3-3 in the second set and in the seventh game of the decider, she erased a chance Sasnovich had to level at 3-3. 

“The fans really helped, especially in that game with the break points. Having the crowd like this is always motivating and always positive, no matter what the result is, is very important for me. Being in Qatar is like being home ... and it’s amazing. Hopefully, I can hear them chanting for the whole tournament,” said Jabeur. 

Earlier, in what was expected to be an absorbing battle between former Doha champions, Kvitova pulled out of the tie against Belgian Elise Mertens after recurrence of left wrist injury as she trailed 7-5, 1-2. 

“Unfortunately my left wrist injury came back during the match today and I was in too much pain to continue. Congratulations to @elise_mertens and I’m sorry to finish my time in Doha like this,” Kvitova tweeted. 

Madison Brengle advanced to face Garbine Muguruza after Azarenka pulled out of the match. 

Also yesterday, Iga Swiatek of Poland earned a tough three-set win, battling past a spirited Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to set up third round clash against Daria Kasatkina in the third round. 

No.15 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia also continued her fine run in Doha by outlasting Amanda Anisimova of the United States 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round.

Elsewhere, third seed Paula Badosa snuffed out the threat of rising teenager Clara Tauson 6-1, 6-2 in just 69 minutes to reach the third round.



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