Doha | Muguruza sets up Barty quarter-final

Former World No 1 Garbiñe Muguruza will meet the current incumbent Ash Barty in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Total Open after seeing off Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska, 6-2 6-4, on Wednesday; while Karolina Pliskova and Kiki Bertens fall.

I think it's great for me to be able to play the World No 1, I'm excited, it's going to be a good match, that's the matches that I'm looking for and that means that I'm still here and I'm still in the quarter-finals. Garbiñe Muguruza

The former French Open and Wimbledon champion, who lost in this year’s Australian Open final, has reached the quarter-finals of all 5 tournaments she has played in 2020, showing impressive consistency under her coach Conchita Martinez.

“I’m very happy because every match is very different and tough,” she said during her on-court interview. “I have to say thanks to the crowd, because I know it’s late. So thank you all for being here.”

The Spaniard began the year ranked outside the Top 30, but her surge of solid results have seen her halve her ranking in less than two months, with likely opportunities to return to the Top 10 for the first time since 2018 by Roland Garros, where she won her first of two major titles in 2016.

While Yastremska earned break points, Muguruza was quicker to convert, drawing first blood in the 5th game and ensuring an insurance break that helped her serve out the opening set at her first opportunity.

“I think it was about staying with her all the time,” she said later. “She hits a lot of strong shots, some of them go in, some of them go out sometimes.

“So I felt that I was very solid with my game and it was working since the beginning.”

The second set saw the No 11 seed continue her momentum, taking a 3-1 lead, after which the pair traded four breaks in a row before Muguruza’s return proved the stronger as she moved within one game of victory and clinched the win as Yastremska put one last backhand past the baseline.

“At the end of the second set, as always, at the end of the match sometimes it gets tougher,” she reflected. “She was playing better at that moment and I just kept fighting the same way and luckily I could close it in two sets.”

Up next is top seed Barty, who advanced when Elena Rybakina had to withdraw from the tournament with an abductor injury after her second-round win on Tuesday.

“I think she, for sure, stepped it up,” said Muguruza. “I think she’s very talented, she’s holding in that spot for a long time.

“So I think it’s great for me to be able to play the World No 1, I’m excited, it’s going to be a good match, that’s the matches that I’m looking for and that means that I’m still here and I’m still in the quarter-finals.”

Third-seeded Karolina Pliskova lost, 6-4 3-6 6-3, to Ons Jabeur, a rising talent from Tunisia who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals and narrowly lost to Dubai Duty Free winner Simona Halep last week.

She held firm even as she appeared to struggle physically at the finish line, serving out the Centre Court upset – her biggest completed win by ranking – after an hour and 47 minutes.

“I had to play really good, she’s a tough player and especially her serve it’s not easy to break, so I had to really serve good or be ready for her returns,” she said after the match.

“I know when I chose to receive at the beginning it was opportunity to try to break her at the beginning, it worked pretty good.

“She served amazing on break points, so I was kind of frustrated sometimes because when I play the point and I miss the ball easy I know it’s not going to be that easy at the end to return her serves.

“But I’m glad that I maintained really good game and I’m looking forward for the next match.”

Jabeur will next face another Czech, Petra Kvitova, seeded 8, who defeated Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2 4-6 6-1, No.8 seed Petra Kvitova awaits.

“I mean Petra is Petra. She plays unbelievable and she’s a tough player. We played at Wimbledon, so hopefully I can be ready more this time. It’s different surface, it’s a great tournament for me for now.

“She’s a lefty, so she could really bother me with her serve. So I think I’m going to be ready, I’m much better than last year, so I have really high hopes for tomorrow.”

In all, Jabeur struck an impressive 33 winners to just 18 unforced errors, and returned well enough to allow just 4 aces from Pliskova, the Ace Queen, who struck 20 winners to 22 unforced errors.

Meanwhile, 4th-seeded Belinda Bencic also advanced by beating Yulia Putintseva, 6-4 6-3, striking out to a healthy early advantage and seeing off the Kazahk’s comeback, and then making a similarly quick start to the second to ensure her passage through.

She will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova, who received a walkover from Amanda Anisimova after the American had to withdraw due to illness.

The last quarter-final is between 9th seeded Aryna Sabalenka and Saisai Zheng from China.

The Belarusian needed just 54 minutes to see off Maria Sakkari, the 15th seed from Greece, 6-3 6-0; while Zheng took 2 hours and 11 minutes to upset Kiki Bertens, the 7th-seeded Dutchwoman, 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Ons Jabeur

© Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images



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