Dubai: Former world number one Ana Ivanovic and wild card entry Marion Bartoli were among the winners on the opening day of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open here on Monday.
Ivanovic weathered a late surge from multiple junior Grand Slam champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win 6-3, 7-6 (5) on centre court, while Bartoli justified her wild card entry as the 28-year-old Frenchwoman staged a late recovery to overcome Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The first match of the day saw highly-rated American Sloane Stephens crash out to Sorana Cirstea 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
Ivanovic was relieved at going through after the late surge put up by Pavlyuchenkova. “It was very tough. She was striking the ball a lot deeper and harder, but I am really happy I managed to stay in the match and finish it in two sets. It was a good effort,” Ivanovic said.
The Serbian will now get a day off to recover before she meets the winner of the match between Petra Kvitova and Daniela Hantuchova. “I am just happy to win in two sets so I can regenerate more and hopefully take it easy and try to be ready for the next one,” the 25-year-old said.
And now that she has started winning again, Ivanovic even fancies her chances of getting back to the top of women’s tennis. “It’s been my goal for a while now and I really want to break into the top-10 again,” she said. “I really feel I have the game, but I just haven’t been consistent enough, especially against the top players.”
Stephens, who stunned World No.1 Serena Williams in last month’s Australian Open quarter-finals to rise to a career high No.16 this week, was not too worried by the setback of losing here.
The 19-year-old, who was last week beaten by Zakopalova in the third round of the Qatar Open, said: “I wouldn’t say last week was a terrible week for me. I lost, still played really well and that’s how it kinda goes sometimes. This week I was a little bit frustrated, but I wouldn’t pinpoint one thing and say ‘oh, I lost because of this’, because that’s not what happened.”
Hsieh Su-wei also advanced on the opening day, the Chinese Taipei player overcoming Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-3.