DUBAI, UAE - On Day 4 of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki continued to fly the flag for the veterans, while the two youngest women in the Top 100 scored the biggest upsets of the day.
The youngest woman in the Top 100, No.70 Catherine Bellis has kicked off her 2017 season right where she finished 2016. The 17-year-old blitzed through the end of last season riding a 15-match winning streak through ITF Circuit and WTA 125K Series events, winning 22 of her last 24 matches dating back to the start of US Open qualifying. Hamstring and glute injuries delayed the start of her season, but after falling in qualifying last week at the Qatar Total Open, Bellis is into her third WTA quarterfinal after scoring the upset of the day, beating Radwanska, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the third round.
The win is Bellis' first over a Top 10 player and supplanted her breakout victory over Dominika Cibulkova at the 2014 US Open. "I would say right now is more important to me because when I was playing in the other match against Dominika, I was so young," Bellis said. "I couldn't really back that up back then because of my strength in my body and there was so much going on. Now I feel like I'm able to win more matches consistently. I think my game can hang with these girls a little bit better now. I think this means a little bit more to me."
Taller, stronger, and fitter than her 15-year-old self, Bellis has found she's able to hang with some of the game's best. Over the last six months she scored wins over quality opposition, such as Jelena Ostapenko, Shelby Rogers, and Zhang Shuai. In addition to beating Radwanska in Dubai, she also knocked off Laura Siegemund and Yulia Putintseva in straight sets.
Bellis and her family have relocated from their home in Atherton, California to the new USTA training center in Orlando. It's been a smooth adjustment for the California girl, who committed to play at Stanford last summer before opting to turn pro in September.
"I have had kind of a dream couple of months since I have turned pro, but obviously it's not always going to be as happy-go-lucky, so I have been really lucky so far."
The 19-year-old from Croatia started her season by making the final of the ASB Classic and she tallied the best win of her season-to-date, coming back from the brink to beat Vesnina, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4). She'll play top seed Angelique Kerber. The German avenged her gold medal loss to Monica Puig with a clean 6-2, 6-3 win.
Hear more from Konjuh and Bellis in our Daily Dispatch Podcast:
Lauren Davis continues to roll.
The American is 13-2 in 2017 after starting her season with her first career title in Auckland. She's into her third quarterfinal of the year after beating Ekaterina Makarova, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the Round of 16. She's set to make her Top 40 debut and rise to a career-high ranking on Monday. But next up she'll face No.7 seed Elina Svitolina, who edged another American, Christina McHale 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Caroline Wozniacki avoids "crisis" to make her fourth quarterfinal of the year.
The Dane did well to fend off a spirited challenge from Kateryna Bondarenko, overcoming a groin injury to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to close out the night session. Wozniacki took a medical timeout late in the second set to get her upper left leg taped and she admits she's feeling the effect of her tough turnaround from Doha.
"I hope today was my day of crisis and tomorrow is going to be better," Wozniacki said. "I started to feel the groin just a little bit. You know, I have played a lot of matches, and I think I just strained it a little bit. It's not a big deal, but I definitely feel it."
"I'm just thinking that it's the last tournament before I have a little break. I'm just thinking, keep going, I'm playing really well, so I have a lot of confidence, obviously, and I just tell myself to keep going, push through this, try and win this tournament. Then I can enjoy a little bit of rest after."
I know 1 thing after 2night. If I ever have kids, they MOST DEF won't play tennis. This is too stressful. ?I lost 5 years of my life tonight
? sascha Bajin (@BigSascha) February 22, 2017
Wang Qiang ends Kristina Mladenovic's surge.
The 25-year-old from China's tennis hotbed of Tianjin, took advantage of a flat Mladenovic to win 6-1, 6-4. This is Wang's second quarterfinal of the season, having lost to Camila Giorgi in the quarterfinals of the Shenzhen Open.
The quarterfinals are set.