Defending champion Karolina Pliskova was stunned by American qualifier CiCi Bellis 7-6(4), 6-3 in the third round of Doha on Thursday.
It was the 18-year-old’s first career Top 5 win on the WTA.
“This was huge for me,” Bellis said. “I think I played a really good match and just tried to track down as many balls as I could. Obviously, I’ve watched her play for many years and she’s one of my idols for sure. I’m just really happy to was able to get through it.”
Pliskova’s last title came on the grass last year at Eastbourne. She came into the event battling an illness.
In the quarters, Bellis will meet world No. 2 Simona Halep who slipped past Anastasija Sevastova 6-4, 6-3. Halep can return to No. 1 by finishing a round ahead of Caroline Wozniacki.
Two Australian Open champions set up on a Friday clash. Wozniacki took a tough first set over Monica Niculescu then rolled to a 7-5, 6-1, win. And she’ll now face Angelique Kerber who came back to beat Johanna Konta 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.
“Caroline is always a tricky opponent, but it’s just another match,” Kerber said. “It’s another tough match, and the match starts from zero. We’ve played a lot of matches in the past few years, and all the matches were close and tough.
“I think we’re both playing good this year and I think we’ll just try our best. It will be a good match for both of us.”
Added Wozniacki, “Obviously Angie has great defense, great movement. And she gets some really good angles. And it’s going to be tough with a lot of long rallies.”
Kerber leads 8-5 but the two haven’t played since the German won their 2016 US Open semifinal.
Also tomorrow, Petra Kvitova collides with Julia Goerges and Garbine Muguruza meets Caroline Garcia. Kvitova upended Elina Svitova 6-4, 7-5.
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