Former World No.1 Simona Halep completed the quarterfinal lineup at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, winning the late-night match against her fellow Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 6-2.
Halep took just an hour and 9 minutes to overcome qualifier Ruse and book a spot in her second quarterfinal of the season, as she seeks her third Dubai title. Halep was crowned champion at this event in 2015 and 2020.
Rivals and teammates: Halep has had to face Ruse three times in her last five events, in the first round of Cluj-Napoca last year and the second round of this season's Melbourne Summer Set 1.
Both of those times, Halep defeated Ruse in straight sets and went on to reach at least the final. Halep is now 3-0 against World No.59 Ruse (6-0 in sets).
The pair of Romanians have teamed up for doubles semi-regularly of late. In fact, Ruse has been Halep's doubles partner each of the last three times Halep has entered a doubles draw, including at the recent Australian Open.
"It’s been a tough match, also mentally," Halep said on court, after her win. "[Ruse is] a great fighter, she’s a very good ball-striker, so it’s not easy to play against her. But we played before a few times and I knew what I had to do, so I’m really pleased with the victory."
Fast facts: Halep has already picked up her 10th match-win of the season, winning the title at Melbourne Summer Set 1 and reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open, where she suffered her only 2022 loss thus far, to Alizé Cornet.
Against Ruse under the Dubai night sky, Halep continued her strong form this year. The two-time Grand Slam champion converted five of her seven break points and only dropped her own serve once. Halep also won 65 percent of points returning the Ruse second service.
Next up: After a day littered with upsets, Halep now has a quarterfinal clash lined up against the only seeded player remaining: No.8 seed Ons Jabeur.
Jabeur, Vondrousova roll into quarterfinals
Jabeur of Tunisia and Czech qualifier Marketa Vondrousova also entered the quarterfinal lineup with straight-sets wins on Wednesday.
World No.10 Jabeur dispatched Jessica Pegula of the United States 6-3, 6-1 in just 67 minutes to reach her first Dubai quarterfinal. Jabeur is the only seeded player to survive the first two rounds this week.
Jabeur has played just two events this season, but has reached the quarterfinals both times. She had to withdraw from the Sydney quarterfinals due to a back injury and consequently pulled out of the subsequent Australian Open.
However, Jabeur still made quick work of Pegula, who reached her second consecutive Australian Open quarterfinal last month and is currently at a career-high ranking of World No.14.
Jabeur converted five of her nine break points and won nearly 70 percent of points returning the Pegula second service, leveling her head-to-head with Pegula at two wins apiece.
Vondrousova had an even swifter victory over fellow qualifier Varvara Gracheva of Russia. Vondrousova claimed her second-round win 6-2, 6-0 in just 53 minutes.
The Czech, who won the Olympic silver medal in women's singles last year, converted six of her 10 break points to breeze to victory and set up a quarterfinal clash with another qualifier, Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.