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Tsitsipas, Khachanov up in Rotterdam; Pegula sets up Kvitova semis in Doha

Stefanos Tsitsipas had to dig deep to edge out Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday in three sets to set up a quarter-final against Karen Khachanov in Rotterdam.

The Greek second seed dropped the second set but won in a tight decider on his third match point, securing a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory.

The 22-year-old Greek, who beat Rafael Nadal en route to the Australian Open semi-finals last month, will face Russia’s Khachanov on Friday for a semi-final spot.

Tsitsipas, playing his first ATP Tour event since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the semis in Melbourne, clinched the opening set by breaking to love in the 10th game.

He was pushed all the way by the impressive Hurkacz, but despite squandering a match point in game 10 of the third set, he sealed a last-eight spot two games later.

The world number six is the favourite for the title, after the early exits of top seed Medvedev and Alexander Zverev in Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, French qualifier Jeremy Chardy also booked his place in the quarter-finals on Thursday by knocking out sixth seed and 2017 finalist David Goffin of Belgium 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in one hour and 44 minutes.

Chardy ended the five-match winning streak of Goffin, saving one set point in the first set against last week’s Open Sud de France champion. The 34-year-old Chardy, who has now won nine of the 10 tie-breaks he has contested this year, will now play fourth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev for the fourth time (Rublev leads 2-1).

American Tommy Paul meanwhile, bounced back from losing a tight first set to overcome fellow 23-year-old Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 38 minutes.

PEGULA STUNS PLISKOVA, KVITOVA SURVIVES KONTAVEIT SCARE: The Qatar Open quarterfinals saw 2018 champion Petra Kvitova survive Anett Kontaveit in three bruising sets and qualifier Jessica Pegula reach the biggest semifinal of her career with an upset of Karolina Pliskova.

No.4 seed Kvitova beat Kontaveit 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in a stellar hard-hitting clash to reach her third Qatar Total Open semifinal in one hour and 46 minutes. In the last four, Kvitova will face Pegula, who needed just 57 minutes to upset No.2 seed Pliskova 6-3, 6-1.

Pegula, a quarterfinalist at the Western & Southern Open last year and the Australian Open a month ago, now owns a 20-7 record since the Tour resumption. Striking 20 winners to just seven unforced errors, the 27-year-old showcased a fine all-court game to take down 2017 champion Pliskova.

Pegula took control of the match immediately, aiming her returns deep and at Pliskova’s feet. The Czech, who had battled past midnight the previous day to edge Ons Jabeur in three sets, lacked sharp movement and intensity, and Pegula took full advantage.

The American World No.44 has dropped just one set this week, against Anastasia Potapova in a 6-2, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) qualifying marathon of her own, and rarely looked like doing so again today. Finishing points in the forecourt efficiently, Pegula saved the only break point she faced in the first set and sealed her second set point with another baseline return.

Pliskova briefly rejuvenated her tennis to break Pegula at the start of the second set, but it was short-lived. The former World No.1 would never reach another game point as Pegula reeled off a ‘hidden bagel’ – the last six games of the match in a row, conceding only six more points.

AZARENKA SETS UP MUGURUZA SEMIS: Victoria Azarenka meanwhile maintained her undefeated record against Elina Svitolina, as the two-time Doha champion ousted this week’s top seed 6-2, 6-4 to set up a semi-final clash against the Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

No.8 seed Azarenka improved to 4-0 against Svitolina with her 85-minute victory, which propels her into the 60th WTA semifinal of her career.

Muguruza in a later match got the better of Maria Sakkari in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, with the Greek player managing to break the Spaniard’s serve only once in the fifth game of the first set.

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