WTA Tour wrap: Pegula’s rapid rise continues as top two seeds out of Doha

SOME huge upsets at Doha marked a remarkable quarter finals stage, while a French wildcard and Swiss qualifier were among the big winners at Lyon.

The top two seeds are out of the Qatar Total Open after a mixed bag of results on the fourth day of the 2021 main draw event. The biggest story was the continued rise of Australian Open quarter finalists, Jessica Pegula who booked her spot in the semi-finals at Doha with a straight sets win over second seed Karolina Pliskova. Pegula only took one hour to dismiss Pliskova, who joined top seed Elina Svitolina in the exits on the day, after the Ukrainian went down to Grand Slam winner, Victoria Azarenka.

The Belarusian also claimed a straight sets win, 6-2 6-4 to head into the final four with fourth seed Czech Petra Kvitova and unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza. Kvitova toppled Estonian Anett Kontaveit in the tightest match of the day, 6-3 3-6 6-2, with the game the only one to go past 90 minutes (one hour and 54 minutes). Muguruza proved too strong for Greek talent Maria Sakkari, powering through her with a 6-3 6-1 victory.

Pegula withstood seven aces from Pliskova in their match, and whilst she only had one herself, won 22 of 26 first serve points, and only dropped 11 points on serve in total. The Czech second seed still managed to break Pegula one from two chances, but the American qualifier broke five times from nine opportunities during the match, and punished Pliskova on her second serve, winning 16 of 21 in return games off it.

Similarly, Azarenka dominated all the key statistical areas against Svitolina, rolling with a 66.7 per cent efficiency of her first serve, then capitalising on 61.9 and 42.9 per cent of her first and second serves. While Svitolina was evenly matched off her first serve (60.5 per cent success), the Ukrainian top seed struggled off her second serve, winning a poor four of 24 points which cost her the match. It allowed Azarenka to break in six of Svitolina’s nine service games, while Svitolina broke the Belarusian eighth seed three times.

Kvitova’s victory over Kontaveit was much closer, with the almost two-hour epic ending well for the out-of-form Czech who made her way into the final four. It was still far from perfect with seven double faults to go with six aces, but Kontaveit was also inconsistent on serve with six double faults to three aces. Both players set up plenty of break point opportunities, but it was the fourth seed who capitalised with nine of 16, while the Estonian broke seven times from 10 chances.

Meanwhile Muguruza’s 66-minute rout over Sakkari saw her nearly impenetrable on serve, producing an elite 76.9 per cent efficiency. She won 80.0 and 66.7 per cent of her first and second serve points, while Sakkari’s efficiency (53.7 per cent) and second serve success rate (24 per cent) was just not there. The Greek’s four double faults and low serving percentage meant Muguruza capitalised with five breaks from 12 chances, while Sakkari did break once, but it was her only break point opportunity in the match.

Azarenka will now face Muguruza in the semi-final, while Pegula will hope to take down her second consecutive Czech seed when she faces Kvitova in the other semi-final.


[8] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [1] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-3 6-1
[4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 3-6 6-2
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-3 6-1


Meanwhile in Lyon, the quarter finals are locked in following the remainder of the Round of 16 matches completed over night. It was another mixed bag for the tournament, with third seed Caroline Garcia being the biggest casualty of the day, joining eighth seed Arantxa Rus as the top two players ousted on day four of the main draw singles. Garcia went down to Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic who needed just 64 minutes to destroy her higher-ranked opponent 6-1 6-2, while Rus lost out to Belgium’s Greet Minnen who fought through a first set deficit to post a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win over the Dutch eighth seed.

While Garcia lost, it was better news for her French compatriots, as fourth seed Kristina Mladenovic won 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 19 minutes over Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan. Wildcard and home nation competitor Clara Burel joined Mladenovic in the final eight with a three-set win over Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Despite a disappointing second set, Burel picked up the pieces to win the last six games and run away with the match, 7-5 2-6 6-0 in two hours and two minutes. In the other match played on the day, seventh seed Spaniard Paula Badosa defeated Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele in straight sets, 6-2 6-4.

The 19-year-old Burel’s win over Sasnovich was the talking point of the day, as the world number 218 continued her rise through the WTA Tour with the three-set win. She served at a higher efficiency (64.6 to 61.1 per cent), and dominated her first serve points won (64.2 to 47.3 per cent), breaking eight times from 11 chances, though she was also broken six times in the process. It was the third set that really caught the eye with the match on the line, as Burel won 14 of 15 points on serve, and only missed one first serve during her three service games, breaking her opponent in all three matches from six chances and running away with the contest.


[Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated [3] Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-1 6-2
[4] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [Q] Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-4 6-2
[7] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-2 6-4
Greet Minnen (BEL) defeated [8] Arantxa Rus (NED) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[WC] Clara Burel (FRA) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 2-6 6-0


Picture credit: Getty Images

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