Doha | Day 3 produces shocks as Gauff, Jabeur and Sakkari sent packing

Tuesday was a day of shocks at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha, which saw Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari sent packing, while Naomi Osaka pulled off her first back-to-back win this year, and Karolina Pliskova advanced to the Last 16 despite running on an empty tank.

[The knee is] definitely much better than last week, but it's still there, unfortunately. It will not heal in two or three days, but I'm doing my best to heal it, and I think it's going to be very positive for the next weeks. Ons Jabeur

Katerina Siniakova, a former World No 1 in doubles, orchestrated a comprehensive demolition of 19-year old Gauff, the 2nd seed, while Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko put an end to Jabeur’s hopes, and teenage Czech Linda Noskova edged past Sakkari in 3 sets.

Gauff was stunned in her first match since reaching the Australian Open semi-final by Siniakova, 6-2 6-4, in an hour and 20 minutes.

The American struggled on her second serve, and was a little off her game, and despite looking to have turned things around after losing the opening set when she eased into a 4-0 lead in the second, the Czech, better known for her achievements in doubles, responded with 6 games in a row for one of the biggest singles wins of her career.

Siniakova broke Gauff in the opening game of the match on her way to a 4-1, double-break lead, and, serving for the set at 5-2, she garnered triple set point with her first ace of the day, then closed out the love hold after a wide return from the American.

Gauff, the reigning US Open champion, turned the tables in the second, firing a passing winner to reach 4-0, but Siniakova methodically clawed her way back into contention, saving a break point at 4-1 and pulling back on serve with a love break for 4-3.

After a long forehand misfire by Gauff, Siniakova grabbed a 3rd straight break of serve to lead 5-4 and served for the match.

At 30-30, the Czech hit a sturdy backhand to line up match point, which she converted to wrap up the upset win.

Siniakova has 7 Grand Slam doubles titles to her name, and moves into the Round of 16 in singles for the first time in her career, where she faces another accomplished American, Danielle Collins, a former World No 7 and the 2022 Australian Open finalist.

Collins qualified for the main draw and has already upset No 13 seed Veronika Kudermetova from Russia before adding Czech Marie Bouzkova, 6-4 7-5, on Tuesday.

“Definitely another tough match, [Collins is] a really aggressive player,” Siniakova said, looking ahead to her next round. “I will try to focus on my game and fight every point, and hopefully it will be a really good game.”

Lesia Tsurenko upset Ons Jabeur, the 4th seed, in straight sets in Doha

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Ons Jabeur, the 4th seed, has been struggling with a recurring knee issue, and was in tears on court during her Abu Dhabi Open loss last week to Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Things did not improve for her in Doha, where Leisa Tsurenko won 9 straight games from 1-3 down in the first set against the World No 6 from Tunisia, including a 9-deuce break of serve on her 10th break point to level the opener at 3-3, before scoring her first Top 10 victory in 5 years.

The 34-year-old’s last such win, ironically, was a 6-2 6-4 win against Osaka in the semi-finals of the 2019 Brisbane International, whom she will face again next.

Jabeur, meanwhile, told reporters: “Definitely much better than last week, but it’s still there, unfortunately,” she said, but affirmed her plans to play next week in Dubai. “It will not heal in two or three days, but I’m doing my best to heal it, and I think it’s going to be very positive for the next weeks.”

Osaka leads 2-1 in the head-to-head against Tsurenko, but they have not played since 2019.

Naomi Osaka defeated Petra Martic in 2 sets to score back-to-back wins for the first time in 23 months

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A former World No 1 and 4-times Grand Slam winner, Osaka, scored another milestone in her come-back to the Hologic WTA Tour on Tuesday with her 2nd-round win over Croatia’s Petra Martic, 6-3, 7-6(9), earning her first back-to-back wins in 23 months.

After upsetting 15th-seeded Caroline Garcia from France in the 1st-round this week, the Japanese took another step forward by beating Martic, the World No 67, in an hour and 45 minutes.

Osaka was on top of Martic, whom she last played 10 years ago, for most of the match, but failed to serve out at 6-3, 5-4, and, eventually, had to save 4 set points in an epic second-set tiebreak to seal the straight-sets win.

Later, Osaka said she had taken a leaf out of Novak Djokovic’s tactical playbook and tweaked her return game.

“I did change my return – I don’t want to say ‘style’ but I guess, form. I don’t know how to describe it,” the four-times Grand Slam champion told reporters. “Like, before I was taking one step, one step, and then jumping in, but now I’m just jumping in with both feet, because apparently Djokovic does that, so why not copy the best returner in the world?”

The 26-year-old has struggled to find her rhythm after returning to the circuit last month following a 15-month break form the tour, during which she had her first child.

Osaka, who last won 2 straight matches at tour level in 2022 at the Miami Open, said that a conversation with coach Wim Fissette sparked the adjustments to her game.

“It was frustrating knowing that my serve is one of the best serves, dare I say, in the world,” Osaka added. “But I just really wanted to work on the things I know should be a lot better and the return was one of them. We were talking about it a lot in the off-season and leaving Melbourne, definitely needed to improve it.”

19-year old Linda Noskova prevailed over 7th-seeded Maria Sakkari to advance to the Last 16 at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex on Tuesday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Maria Sakkari, who has had a torrid time of late, fought long and hard before finally capitulating to 19-year old Linda Noskova, 3-6 7-6(2) 7-5, after an absorbing 2 hour 15 minute battle.

Noskova is the first player to win from match point down twice on tour this year, saving one en route to upsetting Sakkari, the No 7 seed from Greece, after saving one in the 1st-round of Brisbane against Timea Babos.

The young Czech delivered a brilliant Australian swing in January, going on to reach the Brisbane semi-finals and then backing up an upset of World No 1 Iga Swiatek in the 3rd-round of the Australian Open to make her Grand Slam quarter-final debut.

Against Sakkari, 28th-ranked Noskova made a slow start, quickly falling behind 4-0, and even when she did gain a foothold in the match, the Greek’s consistency and forehand power took Sakkari to a 5-3 second-set lead, where she held a match point on the Czech’s serve.

The teenager snuffed it out, though, with a service winner, and dominated the ensuing tiebreak to level the match.

The first 10 games of the decider went with serve until Noskova took advantage of a series of Sakkari forehand errors at 5-5 to gain the crucial break, finishing with 26 winners, including 7 aces, to 34 unforced errors.

The result was the 5th Top 10 win of Noskova’s career, and improves her 2024 record to 12-3 overall, while Sakkari’s record this year is 4-3.

A general view showing Grandstand One court as Magda Linette plays against Zheng Qinwen on Tuesday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Noskova will next play her compatriot Karolina Pliskova, the freshly-crowned Cluj-Napoca champion, who extended her winning streak to 7 with a 6-1 5-7 6-4 defeat of Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, losing the second set from 4-1 up, but winning the third from 2-4 down.

The Czech had just a 24-hour turn-around between winning the WTA 250 Transylvania Open on Sunday, and beating Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya, 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4, on Monday night.

Pliskova has improved her ranking this week by 19 places and is currently No 59, with an eye to returning to the higher echelons of the game.

Elsewhere, Elena Rybakina continued her winning run by comprehensively sweeping aside China’s Zhu Lin, 6-2 6-1.

The World No 4 from Kazakhstan secured her 2nd title of the season in Abu Dhabi, and looks to be a strong contender to win in Qatar too.

Melbourne runner-up Zheng Qinwen from China, playing her first match as a Top 10 player, came through 6-2 2-6 6-3 against Poland’s Magda Linette, while Canadian Leylah Fernandez recovered from losing a bagel first set to defeat Paula Badosa from Spain, 0-6 6-2 6-3, and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka was a 7-6(2) 6-2 winner over Wang Xinyu, also from China.

Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the 8th seed, dispatched Anhelina Kalinina, 6-0 6-3, the Ukrainian having beaten Britain’s Emma Raducanu in the 1st-round, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also advanced to the Round of 16 after her opponent, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, retired from their match with the Russian leading 2-1.



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