Gauff halts Pliskova’s winning streak to reach Dubai quarterfinals

No.3 seed Coco Gauff pulled off a comeback win in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Round of 16 on Wednesday, outlasting former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to claim a quarterfinal spot.

In their first meeting on hard court, reigning US Open champion Gauff collected the win over Pliskova after 1 hour and 53 minutes of play, edging ahead 2-1 in their head-to-head. 

“I feel like [Pliskova’s] been playing well since the start of the year, coming back from injury,” Gauff said, after her win. “Even though her ranking is probably not where it should be considering the caliber of player she is, I think it definitely felt like a top win for me. Hopefully I can continue to use that to build my confidence going into the rest of this week.”

Fast facts: American teen Gauff is the first player in weeks to defeat Pliskova, as the Czech came into their clash having won her last 11 contested matches.

Two weeks ago, Pliskova won her first title since 2020 at Cluj-Napoca, and she also made last week’s Doha semifinals before injury caused her to withdraw ahead of her scheduled semifinal against Iga Swiatek. Pliskova has improved her ranking from No.78 to No.36 in a fortnight.

But Gauff successfully turned Wednesday’s match around to snap Pliskova’s winning streak. Gauff has won 23 of her last 24 meetings against players ranked outside of the Top 20; her one loss to a non-Top 20 player in that timeframe was to Katerina Siniakova last week in Doha.

Gauff, a Dubai semifinalist last year, has now reached the quarterfinals or better in three of her four appearances at the event. It is her third quarterfinal of 2024, after defending her title in Auckland and making her first Australian Open semifinal.

Key moments: Gauff had 17 unforced errors in the opening set but regrouped in the second set, shaking off an argument with the chair umpire at 4-2 regarding whether a first serve should be replayed or she should be awarded the point.

“At [last year’s] US Open, I think I lost two or three games in a row once I argued,” Gauff said. “[This time,] when I walked away, I was like, ‘OK, don’t let one point turn into a three- or four-point ordeal.’ I definitely was able to reset after that. I put myself in the position to win that set.”

Gauff saved two break points in the opening game of the third set to maintain her momentum, then achieved the critical break of the day by slamming a forehand down the line to lead 5-3.

Pliskova made one final push in the last game, where she held two break points, but strong serves by Gauff pulled the American back to deuce. One final unreturned serve sealed victory for Gauff on her second match point.

Kalinskaya next up: In the quarterfinals, Gauff’s opponent will be qualifier Anna Kalinskaya,…

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Read More: Gauff halts Pliskova’s winning streak to reach Dubai quarterfinals 2024-02-21 15:27:30

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