Angelique Kerber reached the quarterfinals at the Dubai Tennis Championships for the first time by beating Olympic champion Monica Puig 6-2, 6-3 Wednesday.
The top-seeded German is 3-1 against Puig, but the last time they played the Puerto Rican beat Kerber for the goal medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
"It's always tough to play against Monica, especially after our last match," Kerber said. "I was really not thinking too much about our final in Rio, because it was a completely totally different match than today."
Kerber, who started the season as the No. 1-ranked player before Serena Williams won the Australian Open to reclaim the top spot, will return to the highest ranking if she wins the Dubai title this week.
Kerber saved all five break points she faced against Puig, including in the final game of the first set when she trailed 0-40. In her final service game of the second set, she recovered from 15-40 to go ahead 5-3.
"I was feeling good from the first point," Kerber said. "I'm really happy about how I played today."
Kerber will next play Ana Konjuh of Croatia, who beat eighth-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Also, seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine defeated Christina McHale of the United States 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
"Didn't do my best," Svitolina said, "but then I'm really happy that I won today."
Svitolina will next face unseeded Lauren Davis of the United States, who beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.