Dubai: Rising tennis stars Sloane Stephens, of America, and Briton Laura Robson have vowed to return to Dubai after making first-round exits on Monday.
Stephens shot to prominence last month after sending world number one Serena Williams packing in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, but lost in three sets (5-7, 6-3,6-2) to Sorana Cirstea at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open here on Monday.
Meanwhile, Robson, one of four players who were given a wild card for this week’s tournament, went down in three epic sets 4-6, 6-2, 6-7 (6) to Kazakhstan teenager Yulia Putintseva on centre court late on Monday.
Both insisted they would learn from the experience, though.
“Next year I will be better prepared coming here because I will know what I’m getting myself into. It should be okay,” said the 19-year-old Stephens, who achieved a career high No.16 this week.
Robson said: “All the facilities here are really, really great, and it’s so nice being virtually on site with the new hotel. I have really enjoyed it here and I’m definitely going to come back next year.”
The 19-year-old added that she was disappointed with her performance in Dubai. “I think in general it was a frustrating match. It was just annoying for me because I feel like I have been practising a little bit better this week, and to come out on court and just feel very, very defensive the majority of the match is really disappointing.”
After losing the first set to an opponent she has played before on the junior circuit, Robson dug deep to win the second set with a couple of breaks. But then again a string of unforced errors saw the Kazakh girl go 4-1 clear, only to see Robson fight back for 5-5 and then play an error-prone tie-breaker to lose out on an opportunity of facing defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.
“Unfortunately it just wasn’t my day. I just either went for too much or too little, and I just couldn’t find the right balance,” she reflected.
Robson, who is seen as part of a crop of talented British women coming through on the WTA along with Heather Watson, Anne Keothawong and Elena Baltacha, wants to get her game in order before her next tournament. “I’ll analyse it. I analyse all my matches. You have to try and learn as much as you can from one of them, even though some of them can be really bad. You just have to learn from them and work a bit harder,” she said.
“Honestly, I just want to keep practising no matter where it is and start finding my timing a bit better.”
Stephens, who reached the third round at the Qatar Open in Doha before losing to Klara Zakopalova, expressed similar sentiments, commenting: “I really have been focusing on certain things that I want to work on, and it’s frustrating when you’re trying to do it in a match and things aren’t really going your way.
“But I think I’ll just keep working and keep enjoying myself. Things are coming together, though, and that’s okay.”
And despite the short time she had here, Stephens was impressed with what she had seen. “I saw the Burj Khalifa and went to the mall and it was really cool,” she said. “It’s overwhelming. I don’t even enjoy it because there are too many stores, too much stuff to do. I had fun while I was here. It was a short trip, but hopefully next year it will be a little bit longer.”