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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, February 14, 2024


Elena Rybakina ripped seven of her 10 aces in the final set stopping Emma Navarro 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4 to set up a Doha quarterfinal vs. Leylah Fernandez.

Photo credit: Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open Facebook

A feisty Emma Navarro saved a match point to drag Elena Rybakina to a third set in Doha today.

A forceful Rybakina showed finishing touch to soothe stress.

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Rybakina slashed seven of her 10 aces in the decisive set stopping Navarro 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-4 to reach her fourth quarterfinal of the young season at the Qatar Open.

Six weeks into the season, Rybakina has already captured a couple of championships—Brisbane and Abu Dhabi—and stretched her winning streak to five matches today.

This was the pair’s first meeting since the 2019 US Open qualifying. Rybakina withstood a Navarro second-set rally and some forehand lapses with some of her most declarative serving in the final set.

“We played a long time ago [when] we both were young,” Rybakina said. “She improved a lot. It was such a difficult match. I had some opportunities in the second set, but she played really well.

“For me, it physically was a little bit more difficult. It’s been tough, but I'm really happy I was able to win in the end.”

The fourth-ranked Rybakina raised her 2024 record to 13-2. She will face Leylah Fernandez for a semifinal spot.

Earlier, the 2021 US Open finalist Fernandez fended off Australian Open finalist Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 6-3.

The 38th-ranked Fernandez, who had lost nine of her last 10 matches vs. Top 10 opponents, made history as the first Canadian woman to reach the Doha quarterfinals.

Fernandez, who toppled three Top-5 ranked opponents en route to the 2021 US Open quarterfinal, will face Rybakina for the first time with a semifinal spot on the line.

“For sure I know how she plays,” Rybakina said of Fernandez. “It’s gonna be a very difficult match. Also, a lefty, a bit tricky opponent with this, but for me the most important is try to recover now and be as fresh as possible for tomorrow’s match.”

In a topsy-turvy tiebreaker today, Rybakina rolled out to a 4-0 lead only to see Navarro reel off the next five points in a row.

The Wimbledon winner whipped a backhand winner down the line for match point at 6-5 in the breaker. Navarro dug in and defended with vigor, drawing a backhand error to save match point.

Targeting the Kazakh’s forehand wing, Navarro strung together three points in a row.

When Rybakina knocked a backhand into net, Navarro snatched the second set to force a decider after 85 minutes of play.

The third seed left the court before the start of the final set.

Navarro leaned into two-handed backhand she lashed crosscourt holding for a 2-1 lead in the decider.

A net-cord shot forced the American forward and Rybakina rolled a forehand pass crosscourt breaking for 3-2.

Amping up her aggression, Rybakina backed up the break at 30 for 4-2.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Rybakina spit up her first double fault of the set into the middle of the net to face a break point.

Reaching back, Rybakina ripped an ace down the middle to erase it. The Abu Dhabi champion sailed a forehand to face a second break point.

Reaching back, Rybakina responded by hammering forehands for her second match point.

On the seventh shot of the ensuing rally, Rybakina torched a running forehand down the line ending a hard-fought win with an exclamation point strike.

American qualifier Danielle Collins broke serve seven times defeating Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-3, one round after the Czech stunned second-seeded Coco Gauff.

The 2022 Australian Open finalist Collins will play former French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the semifinals between a pair of power players.

World No. 32 Pavlyuchenkova upset Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 6-3. Pavlyuchenkova converted four of eight break points in the match.

It was Pavlyuchenkova’s first Top 10 win since she upset Aryna Sabalenka at the 2021 Roland Garros.


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