WDay three of the Qatar Total Open saw the conclusion of the second round in singles as well as a number of the top teams in action in doubles. Among the victors was world number one Ashleigh Barty, third seed Karolina Pliskova and fourth seed Belinda Bencic.
Barty, Pliskova cruise, Bencic fights past Kudermetova
Playing in her first tournament since her upset loss to Sofia Kenin in the Australian Open semifinals, the top-seeded Aussie had little problem with Laura Siegemund, blasting past the German 6-3, 6-2. "It took some time just to adjust to the conditions and not having played my opponent before", said Barty, who hit 19 winners in the 73 minute contest. "Happy overall to be able to switch on when I really needed to."
Third seed Pliskova cruised past American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-0. The Czech needed just 56 minutes to secure the victory. "I think the beginning was a little bit tough", said the 2017 champion. "We both were playing well, there were a couple of long games, but then somehow it turned to be quite easy, especially the second set."
Fourth seed Bencic was made to work for her place in the third round, edging past Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4). The Russian had gotten the better of the Swiss in two prior meetings, but she lost the first, but recovered to break twice in the second and again late in the third with Bencic serving for the match only to see the world number five prevail in two hours, 38 minutes.
Kenin, Mertens sent packing
Sixth seed Kenin lost for the second time in three career meetings to Dayana Yastremska with the Ukrainian coming out on top 6-3, 7-6 (4). The 19-year old Yastremska rode a break early in the first set and after being broken serving for the match, a tiebreaker in the second to pull off the victory.
16th seed Elise Mertens saw her title defense come to an end at the hands of Yulia Putintseva with the Kazakh prevailing 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Putintseva gains revenge from a loss to the Belgian earlier this season in Fed Cup and will next face Bencic in the third round.
Kvitova, Sabalenka, Muguruza lead the remaining victors
Elsewhere, eighth seed Petra Kvitova came from a set down to knock off Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in a battle of former Doha champions, ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka edged past Anett Kontaveit 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 while 11th seed Garbine Muguruza made quick work of Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-2 to set up a third round showdown with Yastremska.
14th seed Elena Rybakina continued her incredible run to begin the season with a 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (8) win over Alison Van Uytvanck, but then announced she had withdrawn prior to facing Barty with an abductor strain. 15th seed Maria Sakkari escaped against qualifier Tereza Martincova 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0 and will next face Sabalenka.
Rounding out the winners were Svetlana Kuznetsova, who thrashed Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-2 and will next play Amanda Anisimova, Jelena Ostapenko, who routed Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 and will next face Kvitova in a marquee third-rounder, Ons Jabeur, who got past Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 to clash with Pliskova next and Saisai Zheng, who won 10 of the last 11 games to knock off Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-1 to next face seventh seed Kiki Bertens.
The doubles action heated up as second round action came to a close. Strycova and Hsieh Su-wei eased past Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok 6-2, 6-2 while second seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic fought past Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Klepac 4-6, 6-3, [10-6].
Mertens and Sabalenka, seeded third, squeezed past Kirsten Flipkens and Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (8), 6-2, [10-7]. Fifth seeds Nicole Melichar and Xifan Yu defeated Kudermetova and Ying-Ying Duan 6-1, 4-6, [10-5].
Gabriela Dabrowski and Xifan Yu Ostapenko, seeded sixth, cruised past Ekaterina Alexandrova and Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-3 while the seventh-seeded Chan sisters gave a walkover to Cagla Buyukakcay and Laura Siegemund.
Finally, Bencic and Kenin teamed up to beat Xinyun Han and Shuai Peng 7-6 (3), 6-1.