Day 3 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was one of the most bizarre days in terms of results we have seen all year on the WTA tour. Almost every single match ended with the underdog emerging victorious. Heading into the quarter-finals there are no seeded players left in the draw, in fact no seeded player won a match this week. The draw is now wide open for any of the remaining 8 players to become an unlikely champion this week in Dubai. After days like this the dedication of the top players has to be questioned as players such as Garbine Muguruza produced a ridiculously poor level of tennis.
The day started with 2 strange matches. Both Barbora Strycova and Caroline Garcia came back from a set and a break down to record what seemed like an unlikely victory. Barbora Strycova trailed Julia Goerges by a set and 0-3 before winning 12 of the next 13 games to book her spot in the quarter-finals. Goerges was seemingly cursing to victory playing unbelievably well before suddenly collapsing as Strycova raised her level of play. Strycova was actually in tears after the first set and seemed like she little or no fight left in her which made her stunning end to the match all the more surprising.
Caroline Garcia pulled a similar trick, coming from a set and 4-2 down to advance to the final 8 with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory. Suarez Navarro had multiple game points to take a 5-3 lead in the second set but was typically shaky when the pressure was on and committed far too many unforced errors. A rain delay halted proceedings with Garcia serving for the match at 5-3 in the deciding set, Garcia did well to close out the match when play resumed after an awkward wait. It was a good win for Garcia who was not at her best for most of the match but never stopped fighting and was ultimately rewarded for her efforts.
When play resumed after a lengthy rain delay the upsets continued. Andrea Petkovic recorded a surprisingly comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over Jelena Jankovic whilst Sara Errani thumped a hopelessly disappointing Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 6-0. The Kazakh was a shadow of her best, and a shadow of the player that smashed Errani at Wimbledon in their previous meetings. Shvedova hit far too many reckless unforced errors and pretty much handed Errani a place in the next. Credit to Errani, she was there to take advantage of her opponent’s poor performance.
Sara Errani will face Madison Brengle in the quarter-finals after the American produced yet another upset win by defeating Petra Kvitova 0-6 7-6 6-3. It was a gutsy victory by Brengle considering she was totally outplayed in the opening set. The American also trailed by a break in the deciding set before rallying to win the final 5 games of the match. It was a horrific loss for Kvitova as her season goes from bad to worse. Garbine Muguruza’s season has also gone from bad to worse, the Spaniard hit a whopping 68 unforced errors in straight set loss to Elina Svitolina. Muguruza didn’t seem to interested in the match and couldn’t have played much worse. Svitolina finished the match with 8 winners and 28 unforced errors but that was good enough to get he win on the night.
Day 3 also saw the defending champion dumped from the event in her opening match of the week. The top seeded Simona Halep was ousted by Ana Ivanovic who recorded a 7-6 6-2 victory over the Romanian. Halep has ahead for almost the entire first set and served for the set at 5-4 where she squandered a set point before eventually being totally outplayed in the tiebreak. Simona offered very little resistance in the second set as Ivanovic ran away with the match and continued her resurgence after a poor start to the year. CoCo Vandeweghe was also victorious on day 3, winning a topsy-turvy three match against Kristina Mladenovic.
With no seeded player left in the day heading into the quarter-finals every player left in the draw should feel as though they have a legitimate chance to win the title. It will be interesting to see who is able to make the most of this rare opportunity.