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Angelique Kerber tops Monica Puig, advances to quarterfinals in Dubai

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The Sports Xchange
German Angelique Kerber. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
German Angelique Kerber. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Top-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany avoided the upset bug at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, coasting into the quarterfinals on Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates.

Kerber rolled to a surprisingly easy 6-2, 6-3 victory over Monica Puig, avenging a defeat to the Puerto Rican from the gold medal match at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

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"It's tough to play against Monica," Kerber said following the victory. "I know we played a very good match in Rio and she deserved to win in the end; she played an unbelievable match. Today I was really happy with my performance. I was trying to stay focused and play my game. I'm happy to be in the next round here."

One day after the second and third seeds were eliminated, Kerber stayed on track in her bid to reclaim the No. 1 overall ranking from Serena Williams if she wins the tournament. Kerber saved all five break chances en route to her victory.

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Up next for Kerber is Croatia's Ana Konjuh, who earned her spot in the quarterfinals by ousting eighth-seeded Elena Vesnina, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). The 19-year-old Konjuh lost her only meeting with Kerber at the Bank of the West Classic in 2015.

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American teenager CiCi Bellis pulled off a huge upset to reach the quarterfinals, dispatching No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

Bellis, 17, won the final four games to close out the world's sixth-ranked player and post her first victory over a top-10 opponent.

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"It's one of the best feelings in my life, for sure," Bellis said. "I'm really happy about the outcome tonight. I work so hard for it and I think my work is paying off. I'm definitely playing some of my best tennis right now."

Awaiting Bellis is former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who needed three sets to eliminate Kateryna Bondarenko 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. A finalist at Doha last week, Wozniacki overcame a groin injury to advance.

"I hope today was my day of crisis and tomorrow is going to be better," Wozniacki said. "I started to feel the groin just a little bit. ... I think I just strained it a little bit. It's not a big deal, but I definitely feel it."

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Another American, Lauren Clarke, reached her third quarterfinal of the year with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Russia's Ekaterina Makarova. Clarke will face No. 7 seed Elina Svitolina, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Christina McHale.

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The final quarterfinal pits China's Wang Qiang against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia. Qiang defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-4, while Sevastova beat China's Shuai Peng in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

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