2021 WTA Doha, Day 4 Highlights: Azarenka, Kvitova, Muguruza & Pegula advance to the SFs

Quarter-finals day at the 2021 Qatar Total Open featured four match-ups where there wasn’t really a clear favourite in any of them. In reality, three of the matches were one-sided and the only three setter had a clear frontrunner from the start. If you missed out on today’s Doha quarter-finals then hopefully this post brings you up to speed on what happened…

Day 4️⃣ Highlights

(8) Victoria Azarenka d. (1) Elina Svitolina, 6-2 6-4

The match of the day on paper turned out to be one of the most painful watches of the season so far. A classic case of where the scoreline does not tell the story AT ALL! This was an extraordinary result because Azarenka was severely hindered in her movement as she appeared to tweak something in her back during the warm-up. Azarenka had the trainer on early doors in the first set but soldiered on. As we’ve seen before, it can be difficult mentally to play an injured opponent. Svitolina was passive, error-strewn and tactically befuddled, clearly focusing more on her opponent than her own game.

Despite her physical ailments, Azarenka played a decent match. I got the feeling that Azarenka, who wasn’t sitting down on changeovers due to the injury, may have pulled the plug if Svitolina had raced out into an early lead. Who knows whether Vika will be able to play her next match. A real battling display to keep going despite the obvious pain.

(4) Petra Kvitova d. Anett Kontaveit, 6-3 3-6 6-2

This was the best match of the day by a country mile although there wasn’t much competition 😂. Kvitova was awesome in the first set. It was generally raining down winners from both sides. One of Kontaveit’s best attributes is her spirit. She rarely gets openly down on herself. A positive attitude helped her to turn the match around in the second set with some great angles and forcing Kvitova into errors.

The third set was much, much closer than the scoreline let on… but at the same time I never doubted that Kvitova would prevail. The key stat – Kontaveit didn’t hold serve once in the third set as Kvitova went back to first set bludgeoning mode on return. An encouraging week for Kontaveit and she played well in this match. Petra is into her third consecutive semi-final in Doha and her first semi-final of 2021.

Jessica Pegula d. (2) Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-1

The performance of the day went to Jessica Pegula. This was an absolute beatdown. It’s probably worth noting that this was a strangely quick turnaround for Pliskova who won a lengthy three set encounter with Jabeur that finished well past midnight from Wednesday’s order of play. Pliskova was then second up on Thursday.

I’m not sure it would have made much difference because Pegula was outstanding. Pliskova was subdued but she still hit more winners than unforced errors. Pegula constructed points beautifully and was a demon up at the net. So calm. So composed. So good. It’s great to see Pegula building on her Australian Open quarter-final run.

Garbiñe Muguruza d. Maria Sakkari, 6-3 6-1

Muguruza avenged a straight sets loss to Sakkari in the first week of the year in Abu Dhabi. This was a surprisingly routine victory in what was an uninspiring contest. I expected this to be a long, gruelling match. Not to be as Muguruthless mode was activated and Sakkari had an off day.

When they last played in Abu Dhabi, Sakkari’s serve was a big weapon and Muguruza was very passive. It was a complete role reversal as Muguruza was the aggressor and Sakkari committed a lot of tame errors, especially in the second set. Muguruza is such a value add to the tour in this form. Hopefully not long now until she’s back in the top ten where she belongs.

Best point  🎾

Gorgeous angles in this point from Kvitova-Kontaveit.

Day 5 watchlist 📺

My Draw Challenge final is still in play!

(8) Victoria Azarenka vs. Garbiñe Muguruza

(4) Petra Kvitova vs. Jessica Pegula

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