Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka's season-opening winning streak reached 13 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, as the No.2 seed bounced back from a set down to dethrone defending champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Sabalenka improved to 2-0 against Ostapenko all-time with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory that lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. She's through to her third quarterfinal in three events played so far this year, having triumphed at the Adelaide International 1 prior to winning her first major title in Melbourne.
There will be a new champion in Dubai 🌟— wta (@WTA) February 22, 2023
No.2 seed @SabalenkaA bounces back after dropping the opening set and goes 13-0 in 2023!#DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/j85Bo5h7BE
Comeback complete: In a match between two of the Hologic WTA Tour's hardest hitters, Ostapenko raced through the opening set in 38 minutes, in which she hit a third of her total winners in the match. She also saved four of the five break points she faced, and broke Sabalenka the first three times she served.
Having won her previous meeting against Ostapenko with ease -- a 6-1, 6-2 triumph in Zhengzhou four years ago -- Sabalenka said the key to her comeback was problem-solving.
"In the first set, she played unbelievable tennis and I couldn't do anything," Sabalenka said on-court afterwards. "I was looking at my team asking like, 'What can I do?' but somehow, I turned around this game, and started playing really incredible tennis.
"She plays really fast, deep balls, and I tried to stay super low, stay focused, and try to put more balls [in] than she did. I'm so happy that I did it."
Sabalenka ended the match with 25 winners to 17 unforced errors, and never lost serve in sets two and three after being broken three times in the opening set.
Up next: After overcoming one Roland Garros champion, another awaits in the quarterfinals. Sabalenka next faces Barbora Krejcikova, who was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Petra Kvitova in an all-Czech third round.
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Krejcikova overwhelms Kvitova in first-ever meeting
Krejcikova and Kvitova had never before played on the Hologic WTA Tour in their careers to date, but the 2021 Roland Garros champion overwhelmed the two-time Wimbledon winner in 74 minutes by breaking her serve four times.
Afterwards, Krejcikova paid tribute to Kvitova in a gracious on-court interview.
"This is a really big win for me," Krejcikova said. "When I was growing up, Petra, she was practicing in the same club, and she was already a Grand Slam champion so I was just really looking up to her, and trying to get where she was. It's a really big win."