Carnage continues Rybakina, Brady slay giants
The calmness was to be just momentary, just a breather as the carnage continued in the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday night.
Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina and American qualifier Jennifer Brady wrecked havoc yet again, showing the exit door to second seed Karolina Pliskova and ninth seed Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals.
Rybakina, who vaulted into the top 20 after being way down in 192 a year ago, made short work of world No.3 and 2015 runner-up Pliskova 7-6 (1), 6-3 in an hour and 41 minutes on Centre Court at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
Then, after two hours and nine minutes, Muguruza followed Pliskova out of Centre Court, beaten 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4.
Rybakina takes on Croatian Petra Matic, who beat Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 6-1, in the semifinal on Friday.
I knew I have to serve good today," said the big-serving, Rybakina, who smashed 11 aces past Pliskova. "I also that it's not going to be long rallies. I was preparing myself just to return. First three balls I had to play, like, really focused. I was trying to do it. It was hot. It was a tough match because it is the first time actually I played here in the heat. It was really difficult for me to come just from indoors. I thought that I would have problems with the serve because indoors it's a different feeling. I'm surprised with my serve, that I'm really doing good, yeah," added Rybakina, who now has served up 126 aces in 21 matches.
Pliskova, though, was undeterred by the defeat here and took a lot of positives from the week in Dubai.
"She played well. I didn't do that much wrong," Pliskova said.
"Overall, I think I tried to be aggressive which with her is tough because you don't get that many chances to be aggressive, especially on the returns. It was about a couple points. It could go both ways I think. Not every week not making the final is a bad week. For me it was not a bad week here. A lot of positives. I thought my attitude was great," added the Czech.
Rybakina had stunned freshly-minted Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, earlier in the first round.
Meanwhile, Brady, who got the better of third seed and two-time Dubai winner Elina Svitolina in the opening round, was relieved to pull it off in the end.
"I think really the match started from 3-2 in the second set for me," said Brady.
"Never really felt like I was in the match from the very beginning. I think maybe a bit of nerves from both of us. Yeah, happy that I was able to close it out at the end. I wasn't feeling my best. Yeah, maybe I didn't play my best tennis, but just found a way to stay in there, compete, come out on top," added Brady, who had started the season by upsetting world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in Brisbane.
Muguruza, meanwhile, said that she didn't make use of the opportunities that she had.
"I had so many opportunities. I can't count how many I had," Muguruza said.
"They didn't go my way. I felt like every time I had an opportunity she was playing well the point, serving big, making winners. I was expecting a tough match. I mean, she's playing great. I think she's confident, her shots are getting in. I think she has a very good serve. Her ball is pretty hard," added the Spaniard.
ORDER OF PLAY:
2 p.m: 5-Barbora Krejcikova ?(Cze)/Saisai Zheng (Chn) vs Desirae Krawczyk (USA)/Alison Riske (USA).
5 p.m: 8-Petra Martic (Cro) vs Elena Rybakina (Kaz).
7 p.m: 1-Simona Halep (Rou)/7-Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) vs Jennifer Brady (USA).
Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe)/Barbora Strycova (Cze) or Sofia Kenin (USA)/Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) vs 4-Gabriela Dabrowski (Can)/Shuai Zhang (Chn).