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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Feb 20, 2024 2:12 pm

No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka upset in Dubai

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No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka lost another match to an old nemesis on Tuesday, with Donna Vekic of Croatia topping the two-time Grand Slam champion 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0 in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

For Vekic, it was her sixth win in eight matches against the Belarusian since 2016, but she needed to come from a set and a break down to advance in two hours, 22 minutes.

Vekic trailed 2-0 to start the second set, but then broke Sabalenka twice in the set to rally and tie the match. The Croatian won the final three games of the second set, then shut out Sabalenka in the third, winning 26 of 38 total points.

On the day, Vekic capitalized on seven of 10 break chances and hit 14 aces.

Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland took care of business in her opener in the United Arab Emirates, defeating Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-4. Swiatek, who won the title last week in Doha, is bidding for her eighth career WTA 1000 championship.

She has won 23 of her past 24 matches since her loss in Tokyo last October, beaten only by Czech teenager Linda Noskova in the third round of the Australian Open last month.

“I had a lot of positivity in my mind. But for sure, Sloane played really well,” Swiatek said. “We both had many games with deuces and break points that we couldn’t convert. Because of that, it was a really interesting match.”

The next challenger for Swiatek is Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who defeated Germany’s Tatjana Maria on Tuesday. Svitolina, the No. 15 seed, defeated Swiatek in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last summer. Svitolina is a two-time Dubai champion.

No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan advanced to the third round when Victoria Azarenka of Belarus withdrew with an injury after the players split the first two sets.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, the No. 7 seed, advanced by defeating Peyton Stearns 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 for the third time in the past eight months. She will face fellow Russian Liudmila Samsonova, the No. 12 seed, who moved on in a walkover after an ill Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova withdrew.

Up next for Vekic is Sorana Cirstea of Romania, who ousted No. 13 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-1, 6-4. No. 8 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece topped Emma Navarro 6-2, 6-4 and will take on Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in the next round.

Paolini defeated Canada’s Leylah Fernandez 6-3, 6-4.

Magdalena Frech of Poland will meet Rybakina in the third round after defeating Croatia’s Petra Martic 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

–Field Level Media

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