Gauff and favourite Sabalenka through to last eight in Qatar

By Sports Desk February 23, 2022

Two of the top three seeds crashed out of the WTA Qatar Open in the round of 16 as Barbora Krejcikova and Paula Badosa both lost, though top seed Aryna Sabalenka is through to the quarter-finals, along with Coco Gauff.

Sabalenka eased past Jil Teichmann 6-2 6-1 in Doha, winning an impressive 70 per cent of her second serves as she rarely gave her Swiss opponent any hope in a match that lasted just over an hour.

The Belarusian will now play Iga Swiatek in the last eight after the seventh seed beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-0.

Number two seed Krejcikova was eliminated by the winner in Dubai last week, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-2. The Czech struggled to get going and ended the match with seven double faults to her name.

World number four Badosa fared no better as she also lost in straight sets to Gauff 6-2 6-3, with the 17-year-old winning a dominant 77.1 per cent of points on her first serve.

Badosa is the joint-highest ranked player that Gauff has defeated, along with Naomi Osaka, who was also ranked fourth in the world when she lost to the teenager at the 2020 Australian Open.

Gauff will now face Maria Sakkari after the Greek defeated another American, Jessica Pegula.

Ostapenko will go up against reigning WTA Finals champion Garbine Muguruza who convincingly defeated Madison Brengle 6-0 6-2.

Number four seed and St Petersburg champion Anett Kontaveit is through after a topsy-turvy clash with Elise Mertens 6-3 0-6 6-2 and will come up against Tunisia's Ons Jabeur.

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    Ons Jabeur urged the youth of Africa to believe they can make it all the way to Wimbledon as the Tunisian booked her place in the quarter-finals for a second successive year.

    The 27-year-old is the new title favourite, following Iga Swiatek's third-round exit, as she chases a maiden grand slam title.

    Jabeur was made to work hard for a 7-6 (11-9) 6-4 victory over Belgian Elise Mertens on Sunday, but she has still yet to drop a set.

    Next for Jabeur is Czech player Marie Bouzkova, the world number 66, and she is relishing her role as a trailblazer for African and Arab women.

    "I enjoy sometimes failing and succeeding after. It's amazing," Jabeur said. "I wish I could really give the message to the young generation, not just from my country but from the African continent.

    "I want to see more players here, I want them to believe more in themselves and believe that they can be here. I don't come from a rich family, so you have to really stop finding excuses and go for it, just be yourself and enjoy playing tennis."

    World number two Jabeur is the only Tunisian ranked inside the WTA top 700. This is her fifth Wimbledon, and last year's run to the last eight was her best performance at that point, with Aryna Sabalenka preventing her going any further.

    Now she has the title in her sights.

    "It's amazing to be here and hopefully I can continue," she said in an on-court interview. "I love playing on grass. I love the connection between nature and me, so hopefully it will continue this way for me and maybe through to the finals."

    Mertens beat former champion Angelique Kerber in round three, and against Jabeur on Court One she battled from an early 3-1 deficit to force the opening-set tie-break.

    It was exhilarating at that point, and Jabeur was relieved to win the breaker, fearing she might not have the wherewithal to come back from dropping the set.

    Mertens beat Jabeur in round three at the US Open last year, so the threat she posed was clear.

    "She's a great opponent really. It's never easy to play her, and I had to dig deep, very deep, in the tie-break," Jabeur said. "I couldn't imagine myself playing three sets against her."

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    "First of all, Carlos is a very tough opponent and a very nice person, so it's always a huge pleasure for me to play against him," Sinner said.

    "Today was such a great crowd and especially today, 100 years [since Centre Court opened]… it's just amazing.

    "It's tough when you have match point and you still have to play. It's part of the game, part of tennis, and obviously I'm very happy with how I reacted.

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    "Then match after match I was better, I won my first grass-court match here in the first round, and now I'm here in the quarter-finals. I tried to adapt myself and the crowd helps me a lot."

    Sinner had previously lost four fourth-round meetings with top-10 players at grand slams, being beaten by Alexander Zverev at the 2020 French Open and 2021 US Open, Rafael Nadal at the 2021 French Open, and Andrey Rublev at Roland Garros last month.

    Sinner also improved his 2022 record against top-10 opponents to 2-5 with the victory, with his only previous win coming against Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters.

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    In recording his first century against India in Test cricket, Bairstow went from 13 off 61 balls to 100 off 119, going up through the gears in rapid fashion when England needed him most.

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