DUBAI, UAE - Behind her second win over Katerina Siniakova in as many weeks, Elena Rybakina advanced to a quarterfinal clash with No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Rybakina earned her second win over Siniakova in the past nine days by virtue of a 6-3, 6-3 victory in which she hit 16 winners to just seven unforced errors, and served four aces.
After never losing serve in the opener, the Kazakh finished strong in one hour and 21-minutes after seeing Siniakova close the gap from a 4-1 deficit in the second set.
Rybakina lost just four points in the last three games of the match, capping victory emphatically with a love break of the Czech qualifier's serve to seal a place in the last eight.
The World No.19 broke serve five times in the match overall, edging ahead in the pair's competitive head-to-head which began last spring at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup, 3-2.
"Today, I served really good, and I was focusing on it because I'm not feeling fresh," Rybakina said after the match.
"We know each other, so I remembered my tactics, and it worked today. Every match, I try to fight and I try to find something that can help me. Today, it was my serve and hopefully, I will serve well again tomorrow."
Rybakina set the tone in the victory as early as the match's first game, as she saved two break points to hold serve to start the second round encounter. Later, she dug out of a 0-30 hole on serve to stay ahead at 3-2, and at the close of marathon sixth game that saw four deuces and three break points, sealed a 4-2 lead off Siniakova's serve that helped decide the set.
Despite her overwhelming familiarity with Siniakova in recent months, a first-ever meeting against the right-handed Pliskova stands between the 20-year-old and a fourth semifinal berth in 2020 - though she did beat Karolina's left-handed twin, Kristyna, en route to a runner-up showing at the Shenzhen Open in January.
The Russian-born Kazakh already scored a win over a Top 10 player in her opening round, as she came from a set down to beat Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
"I think it's going to be a completely different style of game [than today]," Rybakina said. "I will try to prepare, and for sure, I will have to serve good tomorrow."