Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep wasted little time in getting off the blocks as the top two seeds launched their Qatar Total Open campaigns with quick wins at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Australian Open champion and World No. 1 Wozniacki lost just two games as she swept aside Carina Witthoeft 6-2, 6-0, while No.2 seed Halep, playing her first match since losing the final in Melbourne, conceded three games in her 6-3, 6-0 rout of Ekaterina Makarova.
However, there was one final drama on Day Three as Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu knocked out French Open Champion and sixth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-1, 6-3 in the second round.
Wozniacki and Halep didn’t have any problems though, as they dominated their opponents to stay on course for the much-anticipated title clash.
Halep had taken three weeks off after a gruelling Australian Open to rest her bruised ankle and foot. However, she hardly showed any rustiness as she got off to a quick start against 36th-ranked Makarova.
She raced to a 5-2 lead early twice, but while serving for the set Russian Makarova put up a fight and was on a break point. But Halep swiftly fired back to close out the set. The 26-year-old found another gear in the second set – despite at one point facing four break points in her opening service game – as she romped home.
“I’m pleased that I could play what I had in my mind,” Halep said in her. “To be aggressive, to try to finish the points, to make some winners, which I did, and in the end the serve helped me a lot. At one point I just started to roll it, and then I just shaked my head and I said that I have to hit it, so I hit it and it helped me a lot,” she added.
Halep did not show any discomfort in her ankle or foot, but later admitted she felt pain. She confirmed though she will take court for her third round match against No.13 seed Anastasija Sevastova, after the Latvian beat Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka a 6-4, 6-1.
Later, Wozniacki too was dominating in her victory over 22-year-old German Witthoeft. The Dane needed just 57 minutes to beat Witthoeft, who is was billed as a rising star after reaching the third round at all four Grand Slams.
But against Wozniacki, Witthoeft found it tough from the beginning. The World No. 1 lost a service game but reeled off the last four of five games to pocket the first set. The second got over much quicker as Witthoeft wilted under Wozniacki’s power.
Up next for Wozniacki is qualifier Monica Niculescu, who had sent packing Maria Sharapova in the first round
Yesterday, Niculescu was on course for a win over No.14 seed Magdalena Rybarikova, who retired after trailing in third set 6-7(6),6-2,3-0.
Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova set up a mouth-watering third round clash today with third seed Elina Svitolina
Czech Republic’s Kvitova was forced to dig deep to extend her winning streak to nine matches in Doha, coming from a set down to defeat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.
After the match, Kvitova said: “I have no idea, first of all, how I turned it around, but I felt pretty exhausted. Not like physically but most like mentally. It’s pretty tiring all these matches, but you know, on the other hand I’m very proud of myself that I won it because I don’t know how, but even the first set took like hour and something...I had my chances and everything, and then I won in the third, so that was pretty good for me.”
Ukrainian Svitolina, playing her first match since a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Elise Mertens at the Australian Open, had it easy against qualifier Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 6-4.
 C. Wozniacki (DEN) d C. Witthoeft (GER) 6-2, 6-0
 S. Halep (ROU) d E. Makarova (RUS) 6-3, 6-0
 E. Svitolina (UKR) d [Q] M. Vondrousova (CZE) 6-2, 6-4
 K. Pliskova (CZE) d A. Cornet (FRA) 6-2, 6-3
M. Buzarnescu (ROU) d  J. Ostapenko (LAT) 6-1, 6-3
 A. Kerber (GER) d S. Stosur (AUS) 6-4, 6-1
 J. Goerges (GER) d B. Strycova (CZE) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
 J. Konta (GBR) d C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 6-2, 6-2
[Q] A. Blinkova (RUS) d  K. Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3, 6-3
[Q] C. Bellis (USA) d  M. Keys (USA) 2-6, 6-3, 6-0
 A. Sevastova (LAT) d [Q] N. Osaka (JPN) 6-4, 6-1
[Q] M. Niculescu (ROU) d  M. Rybarikova (SVK) 6-7(6), 6-2, 30 Retired
S. Cirstea (ROU) d  E. Mertens (BEL) 7-5, 6-4
 P. Kvitova (CZE) d A. Radwanska (POL) 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4
TODAY’S ORDER OF PLAY
CENTRE COURT start 14:00
S. Cirstea (ROU) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP)
 K. Pliskova (CZE) vs [Q] C. Bellis (USA)
 A. Sevastova (LAT) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 19:00
 C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] M. Niculescu (ROU)
 J. Konta (GBR) vs  A. Kerber (GER)
COURT 1 start 15:30
 C. Garcia (FRA) vs [Q] A. Blinkova (RUS)
 J. Goerges (GER) vs M. Buzarnescu (ROU)
 E. Svitolina (UKR) vs  P. Kvitova (CZE)
G. Dabrowski (CAN) / J. Ostapenko (LAT) vs  L. Safarova (CZE) / B. Strycova (CZE)
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