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WTA Tour: Aryna Sabalenka makes shock Dubai exit as Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff reach third round

Aryna Sabalenka beaten by Donna Vekic in her first match since winning the Australian Open; Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff progress to last-16watch over 80 tournaments a year, including the US Open, exclusively live on Sky Sports Tennis

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Watch highlights as Donna Vekic shocked Aryna Sabalenka in Dubai

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka suffered a shock 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-0 defeat to Donna Vekic at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

Vekic broke world No 2 Sabalenka seven times and won 12 out of the last 13 games on her way to a stunning victory in two hours and 22 minutes to advance into the final 16 of the prestigious 1000 tournament.

The result is Vekic's sixth win in eight encounters with Sabalenka dating back to 2016.

"It's a pretty big win. She's had an amazing start to the year and she's a great player but I'm really happy to win. I knew I had to bring my best tennis to beat her so I'm happy it worked out for me today," said the Croatian world No 31.

Sabalenka said: "I feel the conditions here don't fit me well at all. It's really tricky for me to compete here in Dubai. A really tricky court for me.

"The whole match I was leading, I was winning. I won the first set. I was up with break. I didn't feel like I was up. The level was so bad today from me.

"She also didn't play her best. At the end, she stepped in and started playing aggressively because she saw I'm not playing my best at all. That's why she came back from that score that easy, because it was just like who's more lucky?"

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Vekic will next face Sorana Cirstea, who defeated No 13 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-1 6-4.

No 1 seed Iga Swiatek, who won last week's title in Doha and is bidding for her eighth career WTA 1000 victory, saw off Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-4 to register a 23rd victory in 24 matches.

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Iga Swiatek saw off Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-4 to progress to the last 16 at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

"I had a lot of positivity in my mind," Swiatek said. "But for sure, Sloane played really well. We both had many games with deuces and break points that we couldn't convert. Because of that, it was a really interesting match."

The next challenger for Swiatek is Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, a two-time Dubai champion, who defeated Germany's Tatjana Maria 6-3 6-3.

No 3 seed Coco Gauff had a breezy first set before finishing off Italian foe Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 7-5, converting eight of 10 break-point opportunities along the way.

Coco Gauff of the U.S. reacts following her semifinal loss to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
Image: Coco Gauff came through a tough test to reach the next round

Her next opponent, the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova, rallied past Ashlyn Krueger 6-7 (2) 6-3 6-4.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova was made to work hard by American Peyton Stearns before sealing a 6-1 5-7 6-2 victory, before in-form former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko eased past Swiss Lulu Sun 6-3 6-3, while 15th seed Elina Svitolina defeated Tatjana Maria 6-3 6-3.

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka was forced to retire injured from her match against Elena Rybakina - winner in Abu Dhabi and finalist in Qatar - despite winning the opening set 6-4.

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Watch highlights of the second round game between Victoria Azarenka and Elena Rybakina at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

She lost the second 6-2 before calling it a day ahead of the deciding set following a long discussion with her trainer.

Eighth seed Maria Sakkari snapped a run of three straight defeats with a 6-2 6-4 win over American Emma Navarro and will take on Jasmine Paolini, who beat Leylah Fernandez 6-3 6-4.

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