Svitolina begins Dubai title defense with three-set win

Brunilde Fioravanti
Febbraio 23, 2018

Vesina had a ideal start and with two breaks she raced to a 4-0 lead.

But the momentum switched as Osaka gradually found her serve and began to hit her groundstrokes with more confidence, pace and accuracy. "I'm still here", she said of a season which she returned without silverware. "But I will try to be ready and, yeah, just take the next opponent on". Was fighting, waiting for my opportunity, trying to earn opportunities.

She is content with the way she is dealing with the pressure of defending her title.

"Yeah, definitely I'm happy the way I've been handling the pressure and tough moments".

Just one break decided the first set between Kerber and Pliskova. Pliskova conceded another break for the set and match, 6-3, without having worked a single break chance against Kerber. Kerber did not face a break point and she has now won 15 matches this year, equalling the total of Australian Open champion and world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

"I didn't play well", Pliskova said in a post-match press conference. Especially I served well. I think it's only a matter of time. I know what to expect, all that.

Pliskova, who headed the rankings from mid-July to mid-September, needed a fightback against Suarez Navarro after losing the opening set to her 27th-ranked opponent from the Canary Islands.

"For sure. I think those are the important wins in the season, not when you play the best tennis. She's playing great", the German said after her victory over the 2016 US Open runner-up on Thursday. "I felt that whoever could win it, would win the match".

Top seed Dominika Cibulkova overcame Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets while second seed Zhang Shuai also advanced, though she had to save two match points before eventually seeing off plucky qualifier Jana Cepelova.

"Congratulations to our four semi-finalists, who have performed so well throughout the week", said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. Now for Kerber to be in the final of the Dubai championships, she has to beat a player she had lost to in the semifinals here past year. Kerber reached the final four in an hour and a quarter with three breaks of serve without facing a challenge to her own serve.

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