Match Points, 20th of February, 2016: Highlights from the Dubai Duty Free Championships

It was a wild week on the WTA tour at the Dubai Duty Free Championships which was littered with upsets as all eight seeds departed before the quarter-finals and without winning a match. Upsets always add an injection of excitement, but the loss of seeds this week was rather unnerving. The final promised drama but unfortunately didn’t quite deliver. Here’s my weekly round-up of all the action in Dubai through scorelines, tweets, pictures, videos and articles… enjoy! 🙂

Match Points

Singles Champion

Sara Errani, 2016 Dubai Duty Free Championships champion. I don’t think anyone had that one down on their drawsheet! Full credit to Errani for battling her way through the draw. She was 1-5 down in the first set of her first round match against Saisai Zheng, and was a double break down in the third set of her quarter-final against Madison Brengle. She was an absolute wall in the final, thrashing a wildly erratic, Barbora Strycova, 6-0 6-2. While Strycova obviously had the added nerves of the final, this is a rough match-up for her… Congrats to Sara!

Doubles Champions

Chia-Jung Chuang and Darija Jurak won the Dubai doubles title, defeating Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the final. Chuang and Jurak saved five match points in their semi-final against Sara Errani and Carla Suárez Navarro.

The Completed Singles Draw


WTA rollercoaster scorelines

Madison Brengle d. Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4 7-5 (R1) – Makarova was 2-0* up in the first set and 4-0 40-30* in the second set

Jelena Jankovic d. Belinda Bencic, 4-6 7-5 6-4 (R1) – Bencic led 6-4 *4-3

Barbora Strycova d. Julia Goerges, 2-6 6-3 6-1 (R2) – Goerges led 6-2 3-0 15-0*

CoCo Vandeweghe d. Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5 3-6 6-4 (R2) – Mladenovic led 4-2 in the third set

Madison Brengle d. Petra Kvitova, 0-6 7-6(1) 6-3 (R2) – Kvitova led 6-0 *3-1 and then 3-1* again in the third set too

Sara Errani d. Madison Brengle, 4-6 6-1 6-4 (QF) – Brengle led *4-1 *15-5 and also had three game points at *4-3 *40-0

Tennis worth catching up with…

Ana Ivanovic d. Simona Halep, 7-6(3) 6-2 (R2)

While the quality wasn’t quite sustained for two sets, the first set of the Halep-Ivanovic match was superb with a wonderfully intense vibe and some awesome rallies. Peak Ivanovic made an appearance…

Jelena Jankovic d. Belinda Bencic, 4-6 7-5 6-4 (R1)

This was another fascinating installment in the BB-JJ head-to-head with Jankovic securing her second consecutive win over Bencic on hard courts.This was a thoroughly entertaining match with plenty of long rallies and twists and turns with Jankovic coming from a set and a break down to prevail.

Tweets I liked

Facebook Posts


Some of the stats in Dubai were dreadful! Here’s just a small collection…

Muguruza Svitolina

There were some quality performances though; Julia Goerges produced a simply sensational display in the first round to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova for the loss of just one game.


Thanks again to Jimmie48 for his awesome photos from Dubai. This first one of Petra is one of my favourite of the year so far! 🙂

Best points/shots

Here’s a hotshot from Jelena Jankovic in her first round win against Belinda Bencic.

I loved the dip on this pass from Elina Svitolina to set up match point in her quarter-final win over CoCo Vandeweghe.

Memorable handshakes

Belinda Bencic always gives good handshakes, win or lose :-).

Interviews/Press conferences

Click on the link HERE for an interview with the always wonderfully open, Andrea Petkovic after her first round win against Camila Giorgi.


I hope Caroline Garcia continues to do well because she sounds like fun in press.

Strycova’s smile in this post-match interview was infectious.

Svitolina is much more comfortable on camera and in press these days… she’s going to get a lot of questions about Justine!

Revengeeeee… didn’t happen on this occasion!

Favourite articles

Always enjoy Women’s Tennis Blog’s daily picture round-ups… here’s day 1 but they are all worth a read!

Reem Abulleil did some great pieces for Sport 360. Here’s an interview with Petra Kvitova who talked about why she ended her coaching partnership with David Kotyza.

Exciting or dispiriting? An interesting piece from Steve Tignor about the the upsets in Dubai.

Fantasy Games

Racket Rally: My one team change for Dubai was to bring in Karolina Pliskova… well done, James. On a positive note, I had a couple of hundred dollars left and bought one share in Sorana Cirstea! At the time of writing, the top five remains similar to last week with zyxn52 leading the way. Star performer so far this week has been moonih who has 50 shares in DelPo! To join RR or update your team, click HERE.

Tennis Draw Challenge: Congrats to GeneM18 who was the winner for Dubai, correctly predicting Errani to the semi-finals and Ivanovic to the quarter-finals. Once again I was dead last haha. Alexander (1HandBH) won Rio, picking Schiavone as champion… nice pick! For the ATP, Tjelay won Marseille, Tom won Delray Beach and Rocket Roddick win Rio. I was in the top four for all three ATP events so better. If you’d like to join in the fun, more details can be found HERE.

Favourite moments of Dubai? As always, comments are appreciated!

9 thoughts on “Match Points, 20th of February, 2016: Highlights from the Dubai Duty Free Championships

  1. More I want to say later but I feel sad for Bara; it’s no joke when a player crumbles in a final (reminds me of Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon final in 2013). I didn’t see the whole match but from the WTA highlights she clearly wasn’t playing to her usual standard and wasn’t retrieving balls she normally would have done.

    I hope that when she looks back at her week in Dubai, she remembers all the other matches she played in this tournament to get to the final and not just the final itself (and that someone gave her a hug after the match).


      • Early morning ramblings here; I agree with the first bit but tbh I don;t know enough about tennis to be able to call it between Sara and Bara as to whether or not it’s a bad match-up.

        An illustrative example; there was a time, three years ago, when Aga Radwanska looked like a bad match up for Domi Cibulkova; Domi had just lost a final 6-0 6-0 against Aga (in Sydney) and hadn’t won any of their previous matches either. However, she won the next time they met – in the final at Stanford later the same year – and also their next two matches at the AO and in Miami in the following year.

        Maybe Bara and Sara are different, I don’t know.


      • Ramblings are good 🙂 Well I think Sara now leads the head-to-head, 6-1. I’m sure someone said it in the comments and they were right that Strycova struggles to deal with Errani’s loopier balls. But that’s not to say Strycova won’t beat Errani again, but she’ll likely have to play a great match to do so.


  2. Wonderful wrap-up as always! Your suggestions of which matches to catch up on are very much appreciated in particular given the sporadic tennis coverage in Canada that forces me to live off of extended highlight reels for the most part.

    Some stray observations from the wacky week of tennis:
    – Across the five tournaments for the WTA and ATP, all five champions were unseeded — Sara Errani [Dubai], Francesca Schiavone [Rio – WTA], Nick Kyrgios [Marseille], Sam Querrey [Delray Beach], and Pablo Cuevas [Rio – ATP]. In fact, the only seeded finalist this week was Marin Cilic, the #4 seed in Marseille.
    – The WTA elite are having a rough time backing up their standings as of late. No panic yet, but if this continues, the upper level rankings could become very unstable in a couple months, with little separation between players.
    – Yay for Francesca! Those who haven’t seen her celebration — I won’t spoil what she does — should definitely watch it! (Yes, I’m a tiny bit smug I correctly picked her to hoist the trophy, but really I’m just thrilled she’s strung together enough wins for another title.)
    – Yay for Juan Martin! A semifinal loss to an at-home Sam Querrey is nothing to be too discouraged about given his long time off, although I do wish he’d do something more about that backhand so he isn’t as tentative with it (either a proper one-hander or a really good slice to lessen pressure — Flipkins might be a good model).
    – On a different note, this is the second time in two weeks that Nadal has lost on clay to a right-hander with a one-handed backhand (Thiem and Cuevas, both of whom then won their subsequent finals), the sort of opponent he has traditionally dominated. No speculations, just observing.
    – Wow, Nick. A focused Kyrgios is a frightening Kyrgios: in five matches he did not lose a set, did not drop serve, and only needed one tiebreaker (against Cilic in the final). Seventeen aces and 35/37 first serves won in the final. Yikes.
    – I wonder if Garcia and Mladenovic moved the chairs at all their matches together, with a similar eye-rolling response from the umpire…
    – A lot of rain last week in very hot places. That little clip of Dubai looks like a proper desert rainstorm, hard and furious; Rio meanwhile only had one day of regularly scheduled matches without sudden downpours interfering and turning the clay into mud.


    • Thanks for the comment, Alexander. Enjoyed reading your thoughts! Congrats on the Schiavone pick, remember you mentioned it last week. Her celebrations were wonderful, I think I shared them on my Twitter site too. A lot of instability in the WTA right now but it’s February and unfortunately Dubai-Doha aren’t of the highest priority to players. Indian Wells will be more of a solid indicator. And yes agree, Kyrgios is so, so talented with the right kind of application on the court. Not a fan, but hope he settles down and has a big year. IMO, the ATP needs a bit of a shake-up and I would like to see some new faces make big strides in the rankings.


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