Defending champion Hsieh falls short


Dubai: Former Dubai Open champion Sara Errani is enjoying the prospect of a tougher route ahead even as defending champion Su-Wei Hsieh was knocked out at the 20th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge yesterday.

Errani, who won the Dubai Tennis Championships in 2016, got the better of a gutsy challenge from lower-ranked Belarussian Vera Lapko 6-4, 7-6 (4), while Stefanie Voegele dumped defending champion Hsieh 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 in an hour and 37 minutes. The former Dubai champion will now take on Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova in their quarter-final clash, and a win on Thursday will possibly see the former world number seven take on Belinda Bencic in the last four.

“I don’t want to look so far ahead, although it would be nice to have some tough matches under my belt going into the new season,” the Italian told Gulf News yesterday. “Today was one of those tough matches against a very tricky opponent [Lapko]. And then there was the wind to handle and that sort of made things even more difficult for me. Ultimately it was about keeping my focus and seeing it through for another day here,” she added.

After taking the opening set 6-4, Errani was all set to wrap up set and match with a late break for 5-4. But her Belarussian opponent broke back and pushed the set into the tiebreaker that the Italian went on to win 7-4. “She [Lapko] is young and she never had anything to lose today. She went for her shots and everything suddenly seemed to be working for her. Ultimately, I think I had to dig in deep into my experience and see myself through to the next round,” Errani said.

“Towards the end there were a bit of nerves as well, but that’s normal I suppose. Now the main thing will be to get some rest, recover and get ready for tomorrow’s match. I just want to continue like this and try and improve my game each day. It is good to get some tough matches at this juncture,” she added.

Also sealing a spot in the last eight stages was Stephanie Voegele with a lopsided 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 win over defending champion Hsieh, while second seed Mihaela Buzarnescu showed her good form with a dominant 6-0, 6-2 win in just 47 minutes against former US Open Junior Champion Dalma Galfi.

Dalila Jakupovic got the better of Fanni Stollar 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 in nearly two hours on court in a battle of two qualifiers, while Belinda Bencic defeated Tereza Martincova 6-2, 6-1 to make it to a last eight meeting against Buzarnescu. Viktoriya Tomova beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 5-4 (retd.) and Ajla Tomljanovic got the better of Valentyna Ivakhnenko 7-5, 6-3.

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