"See, it's a little bit hard because I feel like people are staring at me, and not in a good way".
The 28-year-old saved six of nine break points and converted three of 11 to advance to a quarter-final against Viktoria Kuzmova after the Slovakian world No. 46 rallied from a awful start to defeat Sofia Kenin of the U.S. 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in 2 hours, 16 minutes.
The 2015 finalist won a marathon game late in the second set, holding for 5-5 after seven deuces plus two set points for her American opponent.
"But even if I don't win any matches for the rest of the year, I wouldn't say I'm concerned".
The No.3-seeded Halep had a challenge on her hands from Bencic - who had saved six match points in her last match to upset No.8 seed Aryna Sabalenka, a pre-tournament favorite.
The Romanian said she is still feeling the effects of her weekend final defeat in Doha by Elise Mertens. "For me, it was really tough to find my rhythm, but also find out the way she is playing".
"I fought and stayed in the match".
"I have nothing to lose against Halep, she's a great player".
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Third seed Svitolina is hoping to become the first women to win three Dubai titles.
"When I was 0-2 down, I told myself, 'C'mon, you are here to make history of the tournament'. I started badly", the world number 26 said.
"I played pretty bad, you have days like that".
The crowd favourite and third seed Halep, supported even in the middle of a workday by scores of chanting, enthusiastic local Romanian fans, beat Tsurenko of the Ukraine 6-3, 7-5, breaking seven times from 10 chances. I've had many matches with her and won them.
Australian Open runner-up Kvitova was two points away from losing the opening set in the ninth game when she responded in style by clinching 14 of the next 16 points. Also, I have no expectations.
The Tunisian was down 7-6, 4-0 in the second round match with the two-time defending champion when she retired - she fell towards the end of the first set and required a lengthy medical break.
Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova reached a 2019 last-eight place for the second time this season after Auckland through a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat of American Sofia Kenin.
It was the second major surprise in a week involving US Open champion Osaka, who announced she had parted ways with Sascha Bajin, the coach who had guided her in both her Grand Slam victories.