Doha: Day-3. Rematches and Retirements.

Day-3 of the Qatar Total Open’s saw a rematch of last year’s Indian Wells final, a pair of second-set retirements on center court, and one of the top-seeds fall to a surging Lucie Safarova.

After reaching her first Grand Slam Semifinal last year at Wimbledon, the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova finished 2014 inside the top-20. This year, she started slow, falling in the First rounds of both Sydney and the Australian Open; but her confidence never faltered. After all, she was still on the court in Melbourne – alive in the doubles draw – and with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, won her first career Grand Slam title on Rod Laver Arena.

In singles, she’s starting to find her way again. Two weeks ago, she reached the Quarterfinals in Antwerp…and last week in Dubai, made it two Quarterfinals in-a-row when she defeated Venus Williams in the Round of 16. Today in Doha, she made it three consecutive Quarterfinals by knocking-off the #5-seed Ekaterina Makarova in three sets, after eliminating Sam Stosur in the First round. On Thursday, she’ll face Doha’s 6-seed Andrea Petkovic, who won her meltdown-free “Dubai rematch” over Zarina Diyas.

On center court, Day-3’s first test was a rematch of the 2014 Indian Wells Final, where Agnieszka Radwanska was hobbled with a knee-injury and simply couldn’t player her best tennis. Flavia Pennetta would win her 10th career title that day in the Coachella Valley. Heart-broken, Radwanska would look forward to a rematch. Wednesday delivered the opportunity, and Radwanska delivered a convincing win, taking down Pennetta in just 48-minutes: 6-1, 6-1.

The top-seed here in Doha, Petra Kvitova looked strong against Jelena Jankovic – who upsest Petra on this very court in last year’s Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, late in the first set, Jelena strained her upper thigh, then retired from the match at 1-all in set-2. While happy to be back in the Quarters, Petra felt terrible for Jelena…the two have become close over the past several years on tour. After the match, we talked about her year so far (won her 15th career title in Sydney), her new physio coach Alex Stober (worked for years with Li Na), and her next potential opponents Carla Suarez Navarro or fellow Czech Karolina Pliskova…

…and that next opponent will be Suarez Navarro, who defeated Pliskova for second time this year (they met in the Antwerp Semifinals two weeks ago). Both have had a great year so far. Pliskova’s reached the Finals in Sydney and Dubai, the Semifinals in Antwerp and delivered two wins in her Fed Cup debut for the Czech Republic. Suarez Navarro will now appear in her 5th Quarterfinal of 2015, having played all the way through to the Antwerp Final, where she fell to Andrea Petkovic.

Center Court’s third match also saw a retirement on Wednesday. Caroline Wozniacki was walking all over Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru who, as a qualifier, was playing her fifth match of the tournament. Not to mention, Alexandra had just spent 3-hours on court less than 24-hours before, defeating Alize Cornet in the First round. Down 0-3 in the third, Dulgheru threw in the towel leaving Wozniacki well rested for Thursday’s Quarterfinal against…Victoria Azarenka.

While Vika struggled with her serve during Wednesday’s final match on center court, her raw determination won her the match. She had a chance to put it away late in the second set, but Svitolina saved match point, earned the tie-break and played brilliantly to force a decider. After they traded three consecutive breaks, Vika was done screwing around…suddenly the serve returned, she amped up her agressiveness and didn’t drop a single game the rest of the way. After the match, she was surprised to hear that her next opponent would be Caroline Wozniacki (she never looks at the draw). Azarenka took-out the Dane last month in the second round of the Australian Open.

As usual with Vika, there was an entertaining moment during the match. Racing in to get a drop-shot, the chair-umpire called a double-bounce. Vika was convinced she got to the short-ball. After a quick “discussion,” Vika said: “We will look at the replay after the match. If I’m right, you owe me a drink.”

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RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2015. Second Round Singles.
[1] Petra Kvitova (CZE) d Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 6-3, 1-1 (ret)
[3] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d [Q] Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 6-1, 3-0 (ret)
[4] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 6-1, 6-1
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d [5] Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3
[6] Andrea Petkovic (GER) d Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 5-7, 6-2, 6-4
[9] Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-6(2), 6-4
[WC] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1

RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2015. First Round Doubles.
Michaella Krajicek (NED) / Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d Julia Goerges (GER) / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)
6-1, 6-4

RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2015. Doubles Quaterfinals.
[2] Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) / Elena Vesnina (RUS) d Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) / Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)
6-3, 3-6, 13-11

Thursday. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day Four. Singles Quarterfinals.
[7] V. Williams (USA) vs [4] A. Radwanska (POL)
[WC] V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
[1] P. Kvitova (CZE) vs [9] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)
L. Safarova (CZE) vs [6] A. Petkovic (GER)

Thursday. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day Four. Doubles Quarterfinals.
[1] Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) / Sania Mirza (IND) vs Michaella Krajicek (NED) / Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
[4] Racquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abigail Spears (USA) vs [WC] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) / Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Hao-Ching Chan (TPE) / Casey Dellacqua (AUS) vs Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) / Marina Erakovic (NZL)