Round of 16 set in Abu Dhabi, Pliskova upset


Third-round pairs were determined on Saturday at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open with the completion of all second-round matches. The day featured the biggest upset of the 2021 season so far, as third seed Karolina Pliskova fell to a player ranked 286 spots below her.

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan

Even though just 50% of her first serves got in, sixth seed Elena Rybakina defeated Wang Xiyu 6-4 6-4 without dropping serve. Just to remind you, Rybakina opened last season by reaching the championship match at four of her first five tournaments, including a title run at Hobart.

Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine

Marta Kostyuk recorded a rollercoaster victory over Hsieh Su-Wei. After failing to close out a 6-3 5-1 lead, the Ukrainian teenager rallied from a break down in the third set to win 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 in two hours and 14 minutes.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic

Karolina Pliskova became the tournament’s first big casualty. The third-seeded Czech fell to Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova 6-2 6-4, who is making her main-draw debut this week in Abu Dhabi.

The world No.292 Gasanova claimed her first Tour-level victory over former world No.23 Mona Barthel in straight sets in the first round and then stunned the sixth-ranked Pliskova, her first ever opponent ranked inside the Top 100!

The 21-year-old Gasanova said at the post-match press conference:

It was not me on the court. I was so sure of myself. I’m really happy right now.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine

Second seed Elina Svitolina cruised past former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva 6-4 6-1 in just over an hour.

Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia

Svitolina’s third-round opponent will be Ekaterina Alexandrova, who knocked out British Heather Watson 7-5 6-7(7) 6-3. After winning the first set, the 17th-seeded Alexandrova dropped a 4-1 lead as Watson won the second set in a tiebreak. In the decider, Alexandrova never had her serve endangered and a crucial break in the eighth game led her to victory.

Alexandrova picked one of the best outfits from Fila’s Fall Heritage collection. I really like the skirt’s pleated hem and the full coverage tank’s striped V-neck. The color of the outfit is called ecru.

Garbine Muguruza of Spain

Former No.1 Garbine Muguruza enjoyed success in the Middle East last year, reaching back-to-back quarterfinals at Dubai and Doha. Today, the fifth-seeded Spaniard moved into the third round in Abu Dhabi after a 6-1 6-4 victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Maria Sakkari of Greece

Late on Saturday, ninth seed Maria Sakkari completed the third-round lineup by overcoming young star Coco Gauff 7-5 6-2. Sakkari recovered from a bad start, came back from a double break down in the first set and advanced despite hitting nine double faults.

Cori Gauff of the United States

Coco is one of this week’s most stylish players, sporting the fresh New Balance collection, in particular the Spring Tournament Tank and Spring Print Tournament Skirt.

The Abu Dhabi third-round pairs are as follows:

[1] Kenin vs. [13] Putinseva
[9] Sakkari vs. [5] Muguruza
[4] Sabalenka vs. [15] Jabeur
Kasatkina vs. [6] Rybakina

Kostyuk vs. Zidansek
Sorribes Tormo vs. Gasanova
Badosa vs. Kudermetova
[17] Alexandrova vs. [2] Svitolina


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