Second seed Elina Svitolina reached the third round of the Abu Dhabi Open on Saturday with a confident win over former world no. 2 Vera Zvonareva. The Ukrainian won in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 in just 71 minutes. The opening set was tight between the two players with both trading two breaks each.
Svitolina, however, built her lead in the ninth game as she broke the Russian for the third time in the set before eventually consolidating the break by serving out the set in the 10th game. The second set was way easier for her as Zvonareva’s game and confidence broke down.
Zvonareva could hold her serve just the once – in the first game of the set – and lost the match in the seventh game while trying to serve to stay in it. Svitolina finished with 15 winners Zvonareva’s 10 and had just 14 unforced errors to the Russian’s 25.
In the pre-quarter-finals, the world no. 5 will face another Russian in Ekaterina Alexandrova. The 17th-seeded Alexandrova won a roller-coaster three-setter against Britain’s Heather Watson, prevailing 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-3.
Abu Dhabi Open: Anastasia Gasanova stalls Karolina Pliskova’s title hopes
It was another Russian who scripted the story of the day in Abu Dhabi. Qualifier Anastasia Gasanova toppled third seed and the world no. 6 Karolina Pliskova in their second-round match.
The 21-year-old won 6-2, 6-4 to mark the first top-100 and top-10 win of her career simultaneously. While both Gasanova and Pliskova hit 18 winners each, the former had merely 15 unforced errors while the Czech had almost twice that number with 28 unforced errors.
In her post-match presser, she, “I had a  goal to be Top 200, actually. I don’t know if I did this today, but that’s my goal. And to play against a Top 10 player is a great opportunity for me, and it’s a great chance to show how I could play”.
The world no. 292 will take on Sara Sorribes Tormo next. Maria Sakkari and Garbiñe Muguruza will play for a quarter-final berth. The ninth seed from Greece completed 7-5, 6-2 win over Coco Gauff in the last match of the day.
The Spaniard, meanwhile, routed Aliaksandra Sasnovich in their second-round clash 6-1, 6-4. In the earlier matches of the day, Marta Kostyuk and Elena Rybakina emerged victors. The Ukrainian ousted Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in their round-of-32 meeting while the sixth-seeded Kazakh defeated Xiyu Wang 6-4, 6-4.
Kostyuk will play Tamara Zidansek in the round-of-16 while Rybakina will play Daria Kasatkina. Kasatkina received a walkover into the third round when her opponent, the 12th-seeded Karolina Muchova withdrew from the Abu Dhabi Open – in singles as well as doubles – before the match. Photo Credit: We Are Tennis Twitter