If you're keeping up with events in Dubai, you may feel that you've fallen down the rabbit hole. This is one twisty tournament. For example, today, defending champion Petra Kvitova went out in the second round (her first round of play) after having multiple opportunities to win her match against Carla Suarez Navarro. It seemed to take forever for Kvitova to close the first set; in tennis terms, it did take forever--she did it on the ninth set point. And after winning that set 6-1, Kvitova went up 4-2 in the second set, which Suarez Navarro won, 6-4. Kvitova served for the match in the third set but was broken. She went up a mini-break in the tiebreak, but lost that, also.
All credit, by the way, to Suarez Navarro, who never gave up, even though things looked bad for her. But let's be honest: Kvitova is no longer a player to be feared. Suarez Navarro knew that if she hung around long enough, her chances would improve.
But that was just part of the story. No one can re-invent herself quite like Flavia Pennetta, and today, she played as though she were in the middle of a Fed Cup final, taking out 2nd seed (and 2013 finalist) Aga Radwanska 6-4, 6-1. Then there was the Revenge of the Russians, as Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, defeated in singles by Serena and Venus Williams, respectively, beat the Williams sisters 6-4, 4-6, 10-4. Don't mess with the Russians!
Sorana Cirstea gets a big mention here, for taking out both Roberta Vinci (when is she going to get past a first round?) and Sara Errani in her first and second round matches. We all know that Cirstea can do it, but she is as streaky as they come.
In doubles, Pennetta and Sam Stosur, playing as wild cards, defeated 3rd seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Stosur, however, was already out of singles competition; she lost in the opening round to Annika Beck (who was beaten today by Caroline Wozniacki).
Sadly, Doha champion Simona Halep had to retire yesterday in the first round. It isn't that surprising, though; Halep has been dealing with Achilles tendon problems.
Alize Cornet, Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic all advanced to the quarterfinals. Venus defeated Ana Ivanovic, and will face Pennetta in the next round.