Elina Svitolina caught off guard before reaching quarter-finals at WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Top seed and defending champion appeared to be making simple progress before a second srt blip against China's Wang.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine returns the ball to China's Wang Qiang (unseen) during their match on the second day of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB
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When Elina Svitolina charged through the first set of her second round match at the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in only 27 minutes it looked as though it was going to be an easy day at the office for the No 1 seed.

However defending champion Svitolina was in for a surprise as China’s Qiang Wang fought back to take the second set.

Though the 23-year-old Ukrainian regrouped to dominate the final set and secure a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, she admitted she had been surprised to be pushed so hard by the world No 46.


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“Well, I didn't expect it either,” Svitolina told reporters. “But I always try to expect the unexpected.

“I, of course, was a little bit angry at myself that I didn't bring my best game in the end of the second set. I had to accept and bounce back.”

Of the fact she managed to respond to take control of the match and alleviate the threat of a shock defeat, the world No 4 added: “Yeah, I was very happy the way I was playing. In the end, the win is the win.”

Svitolina is top seed this week in Dubai and her career has progressed a great deal since she defeated Caroline Wozniacki in last year’s final.

That result moved her into the top 10 for the first time in her career, and she is now firmly established as one of the leading players in the women's game.

Svitolina acknowledged she is getting used to being among the higher end of the rankings where she has become one of the players with a target on her back.

“I have this already for a little while,” she said when asked about being made to work harder than expected on Centre Court in her opening match of the tournament, having been given a first-round bye.

“I notice it before, as well. It's normal, you know. It's a good thing probably to have as you're growing as a player, getting high in the rankings.”

Svitolina now goes up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka on Thursday for a place in the semi-finals.

Osaka, a wild card entry in the event, defeated Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 7-6 to book her place in the last eight.

“I didn't see much of her lately, but definitely my coach is going to take me through her game," Svitolina said of facing the world No 51, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January. "We going to have a plan that I will have to stick to.”