The top four seeds at the Dubai Tennis Championships all crashed to second round losses on Wednesday, leaving the tournament without a single elite player at the quarter-final stage.
Top-seeded defending champion Simona Halep, Spanish pair Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro, and Czech Petra Kvitova (main pix) were all eliminated in the second round after receiving byes for the first round, in which the tournament’s other four seeds had already been knocked out.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic did the damage to Halep with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 victory.
Ivanovic’s coach Nigel Sears had to convince the Serb to ignore distractions from water leaking onto the court and concentrate on her game.
The strategy worked, with Ivanovic saving a set point before taking the opening stanza in a tiebreaker.
The second began with a run of consecutive breaks before Ivanovic took command to reach 5-2, closing out victory a game later.
Ivanovic next plays Czech Barbora Strycova, a winner over German Julia Goerges 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.
World number 17 Ivanovic called her win over Halep “one of the highest quality matches I have had in maybe the last year”.
“I started a little bit anxiously. I was rushing too much. But I was really happy I managed to calm down and raise my level and win,” she added.
Romanian Halep was just pleased to be feeling close to full fitness having been plagued by a nasal infection recently.
“I was doing OK, I was aggressive. She played really well. She came back well,” Halep said.
“I’m disappointed that I lost but it’s OK. I feel good. I have no pain anywhere. It’s good, and the most important thing is that I’m healthy.”
Elina Svitolina, whose new coaching advisor Justine Henin was in the stands, beat a tearful Muguruza, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon finalist, struck 68 unforced errors in her loss to the Ukrainian.
“I’m not really finding my game,” the world number five said. “I’m not really ready to compete. I need to work a little bit more.”
Caroline Garcia of France waited out a rare rain interruption before advancing to the quarters with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Suarez Navarro.
The two players were forced off court until evening due to rain, which only hits Dubai a few times a year.
The weather arrived with the Frenchwoman leading 5-3 in the decider, but she served it out on the resumption to complete the win.
American Madison Brengle shocked doubleWimbledon winner Kvitova 0-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 in a contest which ended early Thursday morning. – Agence France-Presse