Simona Halep Fights off a Match Point to Beat Ons Jabeur in Dubai
(February 19, 2020) Top seed Simona Halep held off a huge challenge from Ons Jabeur surviving a match point before winning 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7) for a spot n the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Over on the other side of the draw, Australian Open finalist and two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza was pushed to the limit by qualifier Veronika Kudermetova before winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory, and second seed Karolina Pliskova dashed past Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-2.
The top seed Halep ran up a 3-0 score in the deciding set and Jabeur battled back to serve for the match at 6-5. Halep broke Jabeur at love to get to the tiebreak. Jabeur rallied again in the tiebreak to have a match point at 7-6 but failed to secure it. Halep won the next three straight points to capture a spot in the final eight in Dubai on her fourth match point.
“In the end I don’t know how I could finish that in a right way,” Halep said to media. “But it was up-and-down a lot because she doesn’t give rhythm. It was very weird, but happy I could win.”
“In the end I don’t know how I could finish that in a right way,” said the relieved world number two. “It’s really tough to read her game because she doesn’t give rhythm. She can make unbelievable shots; she can miss a little bit too easy. After a long period that I didn’t play matches, after that semi-final that I lost in Australia, I’m really happy that I could just fight till the end and to turn it around even if I was leading 4-1. I was down in the tiebreak. But it was a good match.”
“It’s really tough to read her game because she doesn’t give rhythm. She can make unbelievable shots; she can miss a little bit too easy.
“But she’s improving a lot. I’m sure that she can do it better.”
“Only one thing that you have to do when you don’t have rhythm during the match, just put your head down and fight for every ball,” Halep said in regard to the back-and-forth contest. “You never know when you can win an easy ball or a tough ball.
“What I had to do is just to fight. I’m really proud that I could do that.”
Jabeur commented on a very tough two-hour battle lost:
“Honestly, it’s crazy match. I don’t think I played really well. I don’t think she played really well. It was kind of a lot of changing of momentum.
“I played really good, I mean, tennis first set. She played better second set. Then it was a tricky third set. She had more opportunity than me, that’s for sure. I had one match point.
“A lot going in my mind right now, a lot of frustration. I’m a little bit disappointed. But it is what it is. It’s tennis. It’s going to hurt for a few days.
“Hopefully I can learn from it.”
“There is a lot of positive things in this match, but I feel like a lot of negativity right now, which is going to take time for me to be in a better spot I hope. The only thing going to replay in my head is match point. Should have been patient more. But then the stress and everything, it wasn’t really easy. Yeah, it’s going to hurt for a few days, that’s for sure.”
Muguruza survived two hour 25-minute win over Kudermetova.
“Well, I think she’s playing great,” said Muguruza.. “Nowadays, even if it’s not the biggest name, every match is tough. I think she played super aggressive, super big serves. There’s a lot of things that I could have done better. But I’m excited that I gave myself another opportunity to be in the quarter-finals, just staying in the fight because she was playing great, not giving up until the last point. I’m just happy that I get these tough matches on my side. Honestly, the difference is very, very small.”
Muguruza will have a challenge on her hands when she faces qualifier Jennifer Brady, who backed up her win over two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina by ralling 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 over Marketa Vondrousova.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
February 17-22, 2020
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
RESULTS – FEBRUARY 19, 2020
Singles – Second Round
 S. Halep (ROU) d [WC] O. Jabeur (TUN) 16 62 76(7) – saved one match point
 Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d [Q] K. Mladenovic (FRA) 61 62
 A. Sabalenka (BLR) d E. Mertens (BEL) 64 63
 P. Martic (CRO) d B. Strycova (CZE) 63 63
 G. Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] V. Kudermetova (RUS) 75 46 64
[Q] J. Brady (USA) d M. Vondrousova (CZE) 46 64 61
A. Kontaveit (EST) d A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 76(5) 75
E. Rybakina (KAZ) d [Q] K. Siniakova (CZE) 63 63
Doubles – Second Round
 S. Hsieh (TPE) / B. Strycova (CZE) d X. Han (CHN) / S. Peng (CHN) 62 62
D. Krawczyk (USA) / A. Riske (USA) d  H. Chan (TPE) / L. Chan (TPE) 36 63 10-7
 N. Melichar (USA) / Y. Xu (CHN) d M. Ninomiya (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) 16 75 10-7
 G. Dabrowski (CAN) / S. Zhang (CHN) d K. Muchova (CZE) / M. Vondrousova (CZE) walkover
 B. Krejcikova (CZE) / S. Zheng (CHN) d [WC] C. Garcia (FRA) / S. Mirza (IND) 64 62
S. Kenin (USA) / B. Mattek-Sands (USA) d  K. Peschke (CZE) / D. Schuurs (NED) 06 60 10-1
L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR) d  Y. Duan (CHN) / V. Kudermetova (RUS) 67(3) 75 10-7
H. Carter (USA) / L. Stefani (BRA) d Ka. Pliskova (CZE) / Kr. Pliskova (CZE) 64 64
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2020
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
E. Rybakina (KAZ) vs  Ka. Pliskova (CZE)
Not Before 3:30 pm
[Q] J. Brady (USA) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 P. Martic (CRO) vs A. Kontaveit (EST)
 S. Halep (ROU) vs  A. Sabalenka (BLR)
COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
H. Carter (USA) / L. Stefani (BRA) vs D. Krawczyk (USA) / A. Riske (USA)
 B. Krejcikova (CZE) / S. Zheng (CHN) vs  N. Melichar (USA) / Y. Xu (CHN)
 G. Dabrowski (CAN) / S. Zhang (CHN) vs L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR)
 S. Hsieh (TPE) / B. Strycova (CZE) vs S. Kenin (USA) / B. Mattek-Sands (USA)