Donna Vekic Defeated Aryna Sabalenka, In the Second Round of the Dubai Championships

Aryna Sabalenka was defeated by a former opponent in the Dubai Championships on Tuesday, marking her first defeat since triumphantly defending her Australian Open title.

In the second round, Donna Vekic of Croatia overcame a set and a 2-0 lead given up by the No. 2-ranked Sabalenka, winning 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0.

First place In the opening set, Iga Swiatek dropped her service three times, but she bounced back to defeat Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-4. Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy was defeated by No. 3 seed Coco Gauff 6-1, 7-5. When Victoria Azarenka retired in distress, No. 4 Elena Rybakina escaped an upset. Azarenka prevailed in the first set 6-4 but was in more agony when she dropped the second, 6-2.

Vekic has been on the circuit for eight years with Sabalenka, and Vekic won all of their early meetings. However, Sabalenka’s Grand Slam breakthrough came a year ago when she defeated Vekic in the Australian quarterfinals on her way to winning her maiden major championship.

At the Dubai Championships, Donna Vekic, who has a lengthy history against Aryna Sabalenka, rallies to advance. Robert Prange/Getty Images photo
Vekic mentioned that Sabalenka had won “the big one” in their career matchup on Tuesday, but it wasn’t too bad for her to win her sixth match in eight meetings.

Before winning the opening set in a tiebreaker, Sabalenka had a 5-3 lead. After winning in Melbourne, Sabalenka took a three-week break before taking a 2-0 lead and adding a point for a 3-0 lead.

Vekic asserted, “I was on the beach already,” but Vekic’s comeback was sparked by a sliced backhand pass winner that Sabalenka let go, which also salvaged the game.

“I won the first set. I was up with break. I didn’t feel like I was up,”  stated Sabalenka. “The level of play was so bad today from me. I feel like the conditions here don’t fit me well at all.”

Vekic leveled the set score after almost two hours by winning the following three games while maintaining his aggressiveness and improving his accuracy. He broke for 5-3.

Vekic was unforgiving, forcing Sabalenka into her first three-set match of the year. Sabalenka displayed more second serves and frustration. Sabalenka fell behind 3-0 in the third game after her sixth double fault, and she trailed 5-0 after two more double faults. In a matter of moments, Vekic defeated a top-two player for the first time since 2019 and won her ninth straight match.

Additionally, for the third time in eight months, No. 7 seed and Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova overcame Peyton Stearns 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

Zheng Qinwen No. 6 and No. 8 Past winners Jelena Ostapenko and Elina Svitolina, along with Maria Sakkari, also made it to the round of 16. Swiatek is up next for Svitolina. Their most recent meeting was won by Svitolina in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Svitolina said, “She’s going to be motivated to beat me this time.” “But I love to play these matches.”

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