WTA Abu Dhabi Open: Gusty Gasanova stuns Pliskova
Gasanova will try to keep her breakthrough run going when she faces Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo for a spot in the quarterfinals on Sunday
Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova pulled off the biggest upset of the 2021 season thus far, as the 292nd-ranked player in the world shocked former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the round of 16 at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open.
“It was not me on the court,” an ecstatic Gasanova told the media, during her post-match press conference. “I was so sure of myself. I’m really happy right now.”
Gasanova seized the moment, matching powerful Pliskova in winners with 18 apiece, and breaking the Top 10 star four times while ceding her own service just a single time. The speedy Russian kept her unforced errors lower than her winner count, with 15, while Pliskova was undone by 28 unforced errors of her own.
“I’m really surprised, but when I woke up today, I thought, ‘Why not? Why can’t I win this match?’” said Gasanova. “Actually, I thought I would lose in qualifiers or something like that, but I just kept pushing myself, like, I need to win and I want to win.”
“I had a (2021) goal to be Top 200, actually,” Gasanova added. “I don’t know if I did this today, but that’s my goal. And to play against a Top 10 player is a great opportunity for me, and it’s a great chance to show how I could play.”
Gasanova will try to keep her breakthrough run going when she faces Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo for a spot in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Gasanova had a blistering start to the affair, coming through a long opening game to take Pliskova’s serve on her fourth break point, then using a backhand which routinely left Pliskova reeling to consolidate with ease for 2-0.
The Czech finally stopped Gasanova from motoring through the match without being broken, using her fierce forehand to storm through a break at love and level the second set at 4-4. However, any turnaround Pliskova hoped to execute at that juncture was thwarted when Gasanova used more stellar returning to reclaim her break lead and go up 5-4.
Gasanova knocked off three points in a row in the subsequent game to give herself triple match point for the gigantic upset.
Maenwhile, Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain booked a round of 16 spot at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open on Saturday, ousting Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, 6-1, 6-4.
Former World No.1 Muguruza has had success at Middle East events recently, making back-to-back quarterfinals at Dubai and Doha last season. The two-time Grand Slam champion picked up another match-win in the region by defeating World No.90 Sasnovich after 77 minutes of play.
In the first meeting between the combatants, World No.15 Muguruza broke Sasnovich seven times on the day. Muguruza is attempting to put together a January which recalls that same month in 2020, when she posted an 11-2 win-loss record.
Meanwhile, No.2 seed Elina Svitolina eased past former No.2 Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the Round of 16 at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open in 68 minutes. Svitolina will face either 17th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova or Britain’s Heather Watson.
In the first career meeting between the two, Svitolina’s steadiness quickly broke through Zvonareva’s canny ability to redirect and take the ball early. The World No.5 broke Zvonareva five times and struck 15 winners to 14 unforced errors, while Zvonareva hit just 10 winners to 25 unforced errors.
After an exchange of breaks in the opening two games, Svitolina and Zvonareva tightened up their games to match each other shot for shot from the baseline. Zvonareva began the match striking her backhand well and pushing Svitolina into the corners to open up the court. It was a vintage display from the former No.2, who was facing her first Top 10 opponent since defeating Karolina Pliskova at 2018 Moscow.
A Gasanova (RUS) beat K Pliskova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
E Rybakina (KAZ) beat X Wang (CHN) 6-4 6-4
M Kostyuk (UKR) beat S Hseih (TPE) 6-3 7-6 6-3
M Sakkari (GRE) beat C Gauff (US) 7-5 6-2
E Svitolina (UKR) beat V Zvonareva (RUS) 6-4 6-1
E Alexandrova (RUS) beat H Watson (GBR) 7-5 6-7 6-3
G Muguruza (ESP) beat A Sasnovich (BLR) 6-1 6-4
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