Sara Errani struggled through a match littered with 39 break point chances to post a difficult 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Madison Brengle on Thursday for a place in semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
The Italian who played the 2013 final in Dubai against Petra Kvitova will Friday face off against Caroline Garcia after the 38th-ranked Frenchwoman beat Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-4.
The top seeds had already crashed, the first time in WTA or ATP history that all eight seeds did not win a single match.
The 22nd-ranked Errani is the only player left who has ever made an impression in Dubai, with the remainder of the field all newcomers to potential success at the Aviation Club.
“She did not miss a ball,” Errani said. “It’s not easy to play against her. In the beginning there was a lot of wind.”
Errani fought from 1-4 down in the final set after starting off poorly by dropping the first to number 60 Brengle.
The Italian converted on ten of 22 break points while American Brengle converted seven of 17.
“It was difficult for me to play the ball, I could have lost easily, I just kept fighting.
“Just to be in the semi-final for me is an amazing result. I’ll try to play the next match, doing my best.”
Garcia recovered after two losses to Petkovic, who is playing this season with a new coaching and fitness team in place.
“You always have to fight and work hard against Andrea, she is big fighter, always trying to come back,” Garcia said.
“It was very difficult conditions, very windy. Sometimes it was not very nice tennis, not very rhythmic, but you have to stay focused and, just keep your tactics.”
Elsewhere in the quarter-finals Elina Svitolina of Ukraine beat USA’s Coco Vandeweghe 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.
Dubai Ladies Club served up a fine treat for tennis enthusiasts as it welcomed former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki for a heart to heart with her fans.
Wozniacki, who had withdrawn from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis championship because of a knee injury, opened up about her journey to the top of tennis. Having started her professional career at the tender age of 15, the Dane is deemed a role model by many young tennis enthusiasts who idolise her.
Wozniacki is well aware of her influence over this youthful audience and tries her best to maintain a positive image.
“I think I always try to behave well on the court,” Wozniacki told Sport360, “I know there are a lot of kids looking up to me and watching me play, but to be honest the most important thing is to just be yourself.”
She possesses a special affinity for young tennis players and always tries to connect with them as her mentor Venus Williams did with her when she was 12 years old.
“I try always to make time, especially for the kids, because I know how much it means to them,” said the 25-year-old.
“I remember when I was 12 and I got to hit a few balls with Venus Williams and she said, ‘yeah sure come to the court and hit with me’ and that just gave me so much. I was the happiest girl on the planet for months.
“I want to pass that on as well, being a tennis player is one thing, but being able to give back is so much more.”
Wozniacki gave away an autographed tennis ball to one of her young fans present at the club, 10-year-old William Crowther, who is a keen tennis and Wozniacki fan.
Wozniacki’s path to becoming a top tennis star was not one without bumps and detours.
Her greatest challenge came in the form of the negative and often destructive criticism from people around her when she started out, but that did not stop her from becoming the first female tennis player from a Scandinavian country to hold the world No.1 rank.
“Denmark has never had any great tennis players in the past, we have a few male players, but female players we really didn’t. So I was told from the start ‘oh she can play a little bit of tennis, but she is never going to become good enough’,” she said.
Wozniacki took the criticism in her stride and decided to use the love and support of her family to empower her and prove the scoffers wrong.
The Danish star currently lies at No.19 in the WTA rankings and is all set to put her best foot forward for the Qatar Total Open that starts on the February 21, 2016.
I love the fact that I live in Dubai now but I must say it is very ‘dangerous’ for someone who loves to shop as there are so many places to do that over here.
When I came here I was like ‘Oh my God, this is not good’. I don’t shop often but when I do my credit card takes a beating. I spent part of my holiday here end of last year with my best friend Belinda (Bencic) and we went shopping. It was just a disaster, money wise.
We have all those players parties and professional events with sponsors and we’re used to always being in sports outfits. So that day I went shopping with Belinda and we just went crazy for nice dresses and shoes. We bought Louboutins and many different dresses and of course, for one day it’s quite expensive.
But you know during the year we don’t do that stuff. We don’t go on these big shopping sprees, so that day was really big and we were like ‘what have we done?’ We’re not used to spending that much money for ourselves in just one day.
But we were planning for the whole year; ‘this dress is for the pre-Wimbledon party and that one for this’. So that kind of justifies the whole shopping trip and the massive bill. We said ‘we deserved it, we had a pretty good year, we can treat ourselves’.
On a different note, I’m so happy and proud of Belinda as she made her top-10 debut this week. She’s an amazing girl, she plays obviously great tennis and she’s super young and it’s such a big achievement. I’m sure she can go even higher.