WATCH: Kvitova began the week against Camila Giorgi, perfect preparation for Aryna Sabalenka on Wednesday.

Players will often muse that it only takes a week, a match, sometimes even one well-struck winner to dig out of a slump. Former Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winner Petra Kvitova would have certainly taken any of the above after a middling start to her season, one that saw her fail to win back-to-back matches in her first four attempts.

A decisive start against Camila Giorgi set up a golden opportunity for Kvitova to take on an out-of-sorts Aryna Sabalenka, and the Czech took full advantage, playing pristine tennis to upset the top seed, 6-4, 6-4.

“It’s my first quarterfinal this year so I’m really improving,” she laughed before adding a wry “Slowly.”

Kvitova rallied from a break down in the second set to edge ahead 3-2 in her rivalry with the Belarusian and book another hard-hitting encounter with a resurgent Jelena Ostapenko.

Sabalenka had been relatively efficient in her own opening round, shrugging off nine double faults to defeat Marta Kostyuk, but acknowledged her lingering serving woes were still on her mind after a cataclysmic Australian summer swing.

“I don’t know when I will find my serve,” she joked on Tuesday. “Believe me, I’m working really hard on my service game and hopefully one day, no more double faults—or at least less than 10!”

Though she only struck six double faults against Kvitova, she was instead outgunned off the ground by Kvitova, who struck an even eight winners off both sides while Sabalenka could only muster 11 in total.


“It was great to play night, even though I was scheduled for the day!” Kvitova said on court after the 85-minute victory. “I love to play night sessions, especially here where the people are coming to support. The atmosphere was unbelievable and everything was working nicely today.”

For all her efforts to smile through a difficult period, Sabalenka can surely take heart from her opponent’s resilience after a protracted slump that has largely lasted since she reached the Roland Garros semifinals in 2020. At 31 years old, things were starting to look grim even for the typically sunny Kvitova, who failed to reach the second week at her last five major appearances and fell at the Australian Open to Sorana Cirstea for a second straight year.

Asked to handicap her title chances at last week at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, she admitted she wouldn’t pick herself to be the one left standing, and ultimately exited in the second round to Irina-Camelia Begu.

But all it takes is one special week, and Kvitova appears to have found it in Dubai, drawing a slew of similar opponents—all of whom force her to eat or be eaten. Rather than unnerve her into making even more errors, the pressure has settled Kvitova in a state adjacent to her mythical “zone.” Averaging 64% first serves through her first two matches, she is yet to drop a set.

Standing between her and the semifinals is another big-hitter in Jelena Ostapenko, who is in the midst of her own resurgence and is on the brink of returning to the Top 20 for the first time since 2018.

“She’s always challenging,” she said of Ostapenko, who survived a third-set tiebreaker to knock out fellow former Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek earlier on Wednesday, “and when she’s in form, it’s very tough.”

Like Kvitova, like Sabalenka, like Giorgi, Ostapenko’s game unlocks with an efficient serving performance; a solid 63% over the course of two and a half hours allowed her to maintain her perfect head-to-head against Swiatek and reach a second straight quarterfinal.

“She loves to play aggressively, especially on fast surfaces,” Kvitova explained. “It will be a very similar match to today, so I’m really looking forward.”

Where Ostapenko will have to adapt from Swiatek’s heavy spin, Kvitova is more than ready for the Latvian’s heavy artillery—something that could help her take one more step out of that slump and have a week worth remembering.