Gauff ends unbeaten Pliskova run to reach Dubai quarters

YOUNG gun Coco Gauff overcame a frustrating moment with the chairperson and a set down against an in-form Karolina Pliskova to come from behind and win in three sets to advance to the quarter finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The third seed won 2-6 6-4 6-3 in an epic contest to bounce back from her disappointing showing in Doha to knock off the former world number one and claim her place in the last eight. The match took an hour and 53 minutes, with their previous meetings going 1-1, but the Czech was coming off an 11-game winning streak, with only a retirement against top seed Iga Swiatek in Doha not resulting in a win.

“I feel like [Pliskova’s] been playing well since the start of the year, coming back from injury,” Gauff said post-match. “Even though her ranking is probably not where it should be considering the caliber of player she is, I think it definitely felt like a top win for me. Hopefully I can continue to use that to build my confidence going into the rest of this week.”

Both players have claimed titles in 2024, with Pliskova’s WTA 250 win at Cluj-Napoca a fortnight ago her first since 2020, while Gauff defended her title in Auckland at the start of the year, the seventh of the 19-year-old’s career.

Gauff showed incredible maturity in her win over Pliskova, coming back from a set down, and then an argument with the chair umpire in the seventh game when 4-2 up whether a first serve should be replayed or if she should be given the point. The chair umpire called the serve “out” after Pliskova had returned the ball on faith, but hit the net. When the point revealed to be “in”, Gauff argued the point should have been hers rather than a replay due to the late “out” call.

Though 100 per cent correct, Gauff was still forced to repeat the serve, but went on to hold and move to 5-2. She eventually won the set 6-4, before closing out the match 6-3 in sensational style.

“At [last year’s] US Open, I think I lost two or three games in a row once I argued,” Gauff said of the moment. “[This time,] when I walked away, I was like, ‘OK, don’t let one point turn into a three- or four-point ordeal.’ I definitely was able to reset after that. I put myself in the position to win that set.”

Gauff’s next opponent in Dubai will be world number 40 Anna Kalinskaya, who upset ninth seed Jelena Ostapenko, becoming the first player not named Victoria Azarenka to defeat the Latvian in 2024. Kalinskaya won 6-4 7-5 in an hour and 33 minutes.

While the Gauff-Kalinskaya matchup will be the first head-to-head between the pair, world number one Iga Swiatek and fellow top-10er Qinwen Zheng will meet in the other top half quarter final. The pair has met five times in the space of three years, with Swiatek emerging victorious on each occasion, but only twice has the win come in straight sets.

Swiatek defeated former Dubai champion, Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-4, while Zheng took down Russian Anastasia Potapova 6-3 6-2. The upsets in the second half of hte draw continued to come with Italian Jasmine Paolini defeating Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-2 to continue the Greek talent’s horror start to the year. Romanian Sorana Cirstea ousted Croatian Donna Vekic after the latter shocked Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.

In the other two matches, fourth seed and Doha finalist Elena Rybakina was made to work for it against Pole Magdalena Frech, getting up 7-6 3-6 6-4 in a two-hour and 40-minute contest, while seventh seed Marketa Vondrousova defeated Russian 12th seed Liudmila Samsonova 6-2 6-2.


[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [15] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-1 6-4
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 2-6 6-4 6-3
[4] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [Q] Magdalena Frech (POL) 7-6 4-6 6-4
[6] Qinwen Zheng (CHN) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-3 6-2
[7] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [12] Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated [8] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-4 6-2
[Q] Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated [9] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-4 7-5
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 3-6 6-3 7-5

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