Former titleholders Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep battled through brisk desert winds to advance into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships on Wednesday.
Second seed Kvitova, now the highest-ranked player remaining in the field after the surprise elimination of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, outlasted American qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.
Crowd favourite and third seed Halep supported even in the middle of a workday by scores of chanting, enthusiastic local Romanian fans, beat Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine 6-3, 7-5, breaking seven times from 10 chances.
The challenger managed just a single point over the last three games as former number one Halep demonstrated her superiority by winning her seventh in the series without a loss.
Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova reached a 2019 last-eight place for the second time this season after Auckland through a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat of American Sofia Kenin.
Kvitova, who won the Dubai trophy in 2013, admitted that she came into the week somewhat unprepared, last playing on the WTA in a St Petersburg quarter-final a fortnight ago.
“When I came here, I didn’t really have many days of practice, to be honest,” the two-time Wimbledon winner said.
“I had something different to do in my life. I wasn’t really that prepared for this tournament.
“But I’m happy I was able to get two wins. It’s great when you’re not playing your best and you still find a way to win.”
The gusty conditions were testing inside the stadium at the Aviation Club which 2015 Dubai holder Halep managed to control as she rolled over Tsurenko.
“The wind was difficult today. It didn’t feel like last week (in Doha),” Halep said. “I know how she’s playing, it’s not my favourite style because she doesn’t give any power on the ball).
“I’ve had many matches with her and won them. I feel confident when I play her.”
The Romanian who is currently without a coach, was more than pleased with her strong sprint finish to a match which lasted one hour, 20 minutes.
Last week’s Doha finalist said: “My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible. I’m trying to be more aggressive.
“I’m more relaxed. I don’t put pressure on myself. Also, I have no expectations. I feel that my game is pretty strong.
“I feel close to my highest level.”