Bencic wins after saving six match points against Sabalenka

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Bencic is through to the Dubai quarterfinals for the first time; Getty Images
Belinda Bencic saves six match points on her way to victory over Aryna Sabalenka in Dubai, while Hsieh Su-wei upsets Angelique Kerber.

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic saved six match points on her way to a remarkable win over eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka at the Dubai Championships.

Bencic, the world No.45, came through 6-4 2-6 7-6(7) to reach the quarterfinals, where she will face Simona Halep.

Sabalenka looked to have turned the tide after dropping the first set, the Belarusian twice moving a break up in the decider and repeatedly creating match points.

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However, Bencic held firm and recovered once again from 4-1 down in the tiebreak to convert her first match point after two hours and 26 minutes.

“Honestly, in these kinds of matches you have no idea what’s going on,” said Bencic.

“You don’t think about the score. When you’re match point down, you’re already on the edge. I don’t know how I turned it around.”

Third seed Halep joined Bencic in the last eight after the Romanian continued her steady progress with a 6-3 7-5 win over Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.

Former world No.1 and Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber lost 5-7 6-4 6-0 to unseeded Hsieh Su-wei in the last 16.

Hsieh was two games away from defeat when Kerber rallied from 2-4 down to draw level at 4-4 in the second set, but the world No.31 won eight of the last 10 points to send the match to a decider.

The 33-year-old Hsieh ultimately scorched into the last eight, converting three break points to bagel her German opponent.

Hsieh, who recorded her first win in three attempts against Kerber, will next face Karolina Pliskova for a place in her second semifinal of the season, and first since the opening week of 2019 at the Auckland Classic.

Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova overcame American qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-5 1-6 6-3 to reach the last eight for the first time in six years.

World No.4 Kvitova was two points away from losing the opening set in the ninth game when she responded in style by clinching 14 of the next 16 points.

Kvitova benefited from Brady’s sixth double fault of the match to secure a break in the first game before producing a string of delightful serve and volley combinations to extend her lead.

While Kvitova squandered her first match point by producing a 10th double fault, the Czech sealed a victory with a clinical point finished at the net.

“The wind was just terrible today, to be honest,” said Kvitova. “I couldn’t really serve well today at all. It’s been big struggle for me.”

Two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina extended her winning streak in Dubai to 11 matches after defeating two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-2.

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