A deeper look at the Dubai upsets: After three days of play at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Champions, no seeds remain in the tournament. This is the first time the seeds went winless at a WTA event and just the fourth time no seeds advanced to the quarterfinals (2014 Bastad, 2012 Bogota, 2009 Hobart).
Needless to say, this week's results in Dubai are a statistical anomaly, especially for a Premier tournament. The withdrawals of World No.1 Serena Williams, Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, and Australian Open semifinalist Agnieszka Radwanska -- the top three women on the Road to Singapore leaderboard -- reshuffled the top seeds in Dubai and injected some level of unpredictability in a tournament where conditions are already tricky. The balls tend to fly and the courts have been recently resurfaced. Control is at a premium.
But a closer look at the top seeds' opening round match-ups does provide some context for this unprecedented exodus. For No.5 seed Belinda Bencic and No.7 seed Roberta Vinci, who played the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy final on Sunday, both women arrived less than 24 hours before their opening round matches. Bencic lost to Jelena Jankovic, no slouch of a player herself, while Vinci looked understandably sluggish in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 loss to qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova.
As for the remaining six seeds:
- Ana Ivanovic d. No.1 Simona Halep 7-6(2), 6-2: It's been a sputtering start to the season for Halep, who dropped to 3-3 this season. Halep took a late wildcard into Dubai after deciding to postpone nasal surgery. Her mantra from the start of the season has been simple and repetitive: Matches, matches, matches. Halep has yet to play herself into form and the rustiness, particularly on the big points, shows.
"I'm disappointed that I lost but it's okay," Halep said. "I feel good. Physically I'm okay. I have no pain anywhere. It's good, and the most important thing is that I'm healthy."
As for Ivanovic, she's rebounded well from a disappointing 2015 season. After going 0-2 to start the year her level has improved week after week. She was dominated Madison Keys for most of their third round match at the Australian Open, but get nervous in the end, losing 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. She made the semifinals last week in St. Petersburg, only to lose to the slicing-and-dicing wiles of Vinci.
But Ivanovic carried that form into Dubai this week. She blasted No.35 Daria Gavrilova off the court in the first round, losing just one game. And her win over Halep on Wednesday was her first top 5 win since the 2014 WTA Finals, when she beat...Simona Halep.
- Elina Svitolina d. No.2 Garbiñe Muguruza 7-6(3), 6-3: Svitolina has been playing at a good level. It just hasn't been obvious after a surprising second round loss to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open. Could her decision to hire Justine Henin as a coaching consultant inject a sense of urgency in the Ukrainian's game? Her improvement over the years has been steady but the Henin hiring may just signal a new level of hunger and ambition.
Much like Halep, Muguruza's 2016 start has struggled to gain traction. A foot injury left her undercooked in Melbourne, where she lost in the third round to Barbora Strycova. Against Svitolina she hit 68 unforced errors in two sets.
"I'm not really finding my game, so I think I have to rest a little bit and concentrate again and work hard and eventually come back to the tournament to play again," Muguruza said after the loss. "I think I'm not really ready to compete. I need to work a little bit more. My shots, my fitness. So we'll see."
She told reporters she's still dealing with her foot injury and her participation in next week's Qatar Total Open is up in the air. "If I'm not 100%, I don't think it's necessary," she said. "So we'll see these couple of days."
- Caroline Garcia d. No.3 Carla Suárez Navarro 4-6. 6-4, 6-3: The young Frenchwoman has an uncanny ability to use a strong Fed Cup weekend as a springboard to confident play on tour. She was the hero in France's win over Italy two weeks ago, scoring singles wins over Sara Errani and Camila Giorgi.
- Madison Brengle d. No.4 Petra Kvitova 0-6, 7-6(1), 6-3: At I highlighted in my last Notebook, Kvitova is at a crossroads right now. She drops to 1-5 this season, with that sole win coming against No. 143 Luksika Kumkhum in the first round of the Australian Open, and announced a surprising split with long-time coach David Kotyza. The high-flying conditions in Dubai have not been easy for the Czech. Setting aside a title run in 2013, she has not made it past the second round and lost in the opening round at four of five appearances.
- CoCo Vandeweghe d. No.6 Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5), 6-1: The two split their two prior meetings, so it's not like this result was out of the blue for Vandeweghe. But it's been difficult to get a read on Pliskova's form in 2016. She had a fantastic Fed Cup run two weeks ago, scoring a three-set win over Halep. In Sydney she earned two good wins over Ivanovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. But she has yet to win more than two matches at a tour event.
- Julia Goerges d. No.8 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-0, 6-1: The erratic nature of her game persists -- we're talking about Goerges here -- but the German has been very good this season. Kuznetsova had little chance against her in the first round, with Goerges blasting 28 winners and 15 unforced errors.
Projected Rankings: The big news on Monday: Roberta Vinci will finally make her Top 10 debut. Despite losing in the first round she'll move up three spots after Suarez Navarro, Lucie Safarova, and Venus Williams drop.
Next week's projected rankings:
3. Radwanska (+1)
4. Halep (-1)
7. Bencic (+2, career-high)
9. Pennetta (-2)
10. Vinci (+3, Top 10 debut)
11. Suarez Navarro
12. Safarova (-2)
13. Venus (-1)
14. Azarenka (or Ivanovic wins the title)
15. Bacsinszky (or Azarenka if Ivanovic wins the title)
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.