Former champion Simona Halep opened her Dubai with a tough 3-set win over Ons Jabeur 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(7).
Halep, the 2015 winner, was well ahead after dropping the first set, running off 10 of 13 games to lead 4-1 up in the third.
Jabeur bounced back then did again in the breaker where Halep held three match points up 6-3. The Tunisian won four straight points to hold her own match point before Halep was able to close it out.
“It was like a football match or a Fed Cup match. I didn’t really realize what is going on on court. Everyone was with a lot of energy so we had to give our best. I think it was a great match,” said Halep.
“The only one thing that you have to do when you don’t have rhythm during the match, just put your head down and fight for every ball. You never know when you can win an easy ball or a tough ball. What I had to do is just to fight. I’m really proud that I could do that.”
Halep will now meet former Top 10 Aryna Sabalenka who ousted Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-3. Sabalenka beat Halep in Adelaide earlier this year.
“Tomorrow is a different match, so I have to forget this one,” Halep said. “There is not much to talk about, because she’s hitting the ball very strong. In Australia, I didn’t touch the ball that much in that match.
“But tomorrow is a new day. I’m different than Adelaide. Hopefully, I can play better.”
No. 2 Karolina Pliskova rolled past Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-2. Up next will be the young Kazakh star Elena Rybakina who had a an 6-3, 6-3 win over Katerina Siniakova.
“I think it’s going to be a completely different style of game,” Rybakina said looking ahead. “I will try to prepare, and for sure, I will have to serve good tomorrow.”
Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza stayed alive with a 3-set win over Viktoria Kudermetova 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. She’ll now meet qualifier Jennifer Brady who kept her run going beating French runner-up Marketa Vondrousova in three.
Petra Martic and Anett Kontaveit will also meet in the quarterfinals.
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