Pegula sends Pliskova packing again to march into Dubai quarters
The American world No 36, who enjoyed a breakthrough run to the quarters at the Australian Open last month, needed a mere 53 minutes to send Pliskova packing in even more dominating fashion than the straight-sets drubbing she gave her last week in Doha.
Pegula has now won 13 of her last 15 matches on tour and is through to the quarter-finals at a WTA 1000-level tournament for the second time in her career.
“This is definitely the best of any other year I’ve had (on tour)," said the 26-year-old.
She added: "I’m just really happy I'm able to do it, especially in a time where, with the pandemic it’s been really hard to know what’s going to happen in the future, so I think also in a way maybe it helped me mentally not to take each match for granted."
Pliskova started the second set on better footing, breaking serve in the opening game, but Pegula pegged her back and stormed to victory when her second-seeded opponent struck her seventh double fault of the match.
"Of course my tennis was not there but I think she has a lot to do with it," said Pliskova. "She’s playing super fast, she doesn’t mind my speed, so I have to give a lot of credit to her."
Sixth seed and 2019 champion Belinda Bencic was another high-profile casualty as she fell to Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 in a two-hour 17-minute battle.
Potapova, ranked 88 in the world, will next take on Czech world No 63 Barbora Krejcikova, who outclassed Russian three-time finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2.
Both Potapova and Krejcikova will be featuring in their first-ever WTA 1000 quarter-final.
Third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the quarter-finals in Dubai for the second consecutive year with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win over Estonian Anett Kontaveit.
In a 64-minute showdown of brutal exchanges from the baseline, the explosive Sabalenka fired 22 winners against 14 unforced errors and saved the sole break point she faced throughout the contest.
The Belarusian’s reward is a potential rematch with Spanish ex-world No 1 Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Sabalenka in the Doha second round last week. Muguruza faces reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek later in the evening.
Belgian 10th seed Elise Mertens recovered from an early 1-3 deficit to overcome Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-2. Mertens, who led the tour last season in match-wins, wrapped up the victory with her seventh ace of the contest and will battle Pegula for a place in the semi-finals.
American teenager Coco Gauff was also a winner on Wednesday and awaits the winner of the duel between Ons Jabeur and Jil Teichmann.