Abu Dhabi (AFP)
Seeded Sofia Kenin admitted that “being a Grand Slam champion” was crucial as she saved a match point to reach the quarter-finals of the WTA Abu Dhabi tournament on Sunday.
The reigning Australian Open champion beat 13th seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
However, Kenin, who was also Roland Garros runner-up last year, had to save a match point in Game 12 of the second set to stay alive.
She will now face ninth seed Maria Sakkari of Greece for a place in the semi-finals.
Sakkari defeated fifth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the former Wimbledon and Roland Garros winner, 7-5, 6-4.
“I train with her (Putintseva) a bit, and I know her game well, and she knows my game pretty well,” Kenin said in his post-game press conference.
“I guess it helps to be a Grand Slam champion, knowing what to do about those tough points, those tough times, and I was able to find my rhythm at the end of the third set. ”
Ukraine’s second seed Elina Svitolina fell from 3 to 5 in the final set and saved two match points in the final tie-break to beat 17th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia, 6- 2, 6-7 (7/5), 7 -6 (10/8).
Alexandrova fired 40 winners although they were offset by 57 unforced errors.
Svitolina will then face another Russian, Veronika Kudermetova who beat Spaniard Paula Badosa 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
“She was hitting the ball really well,” Svitolina said.
“It was really hard for me to come back after being 3-5. I was just trying to focus on every point and not let this match take away the good tennis that I played in the first set. ”
Monday’s other quarter-finals see fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka take on sixth seed Elena Rybakina and Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine will take on unranked player Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.
© 2021 AFP