Dubai: The top Tunisian and Arab player Ons Jabeur eased into the second round of qualifying on the opening day of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open, which got under way under cloudy skies at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, on Friday.
Twenty-two-year-old Jabeur, who shot into prominence after being crowned juniors champion at the French Open in 2011, took a little over an hour to dispose of Brazilian Paula Cristina Goncalves 6-3, 6-3 to set a second round meeting up against Nao Hibino of Japan or Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada.
“I tried to do my best even though it was windy and the ball was moving around a bit. This win was pretty good for a first start in Dubai and I am really happy to win here. It is always a special win in any Arabic country. Hopefully, I will continue this way and do better as the tournament continues,” Jabeur told media.
“First, I want to qualify and then take it match by match. After that we will see how far I can go in this tournament,” the 22-year-old added.
Besides the foul weather that disrupted play through the opening day of qualifiers, the other highlight was top seed Ying-Ying Duan of China falling to Bulgaria’s Aleksandrina Naydenova 6-3, 6-3. The top seed was followed out of the tournament by all three wild cards — the Kichenok sisters, Lyudmyla and Nadiia and Oman’s Fatma Al Nabhani.
However, the rest of the top seeds went through unscathed, led by No. 2 Mandy Minella defeating Amra Sadikovic 7-5, 6-2; fifth seed Risa Ozaki a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Nadiia Kichenok; while sixth seed Saisai Zheng got the better of Andreja Klepac 7-5, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Oman’s Al Nabhani went down 6-0, 6-1 in less than an hour against eleventh seed Kai-Chen Chang of Taiwan.
Playing each other for the first time, the 25-year-old Al Nabhani floundered against her clever opponent from Taipei, who took under 53 minutes to breeze past the Gulf region’s best player.
First round qualifying at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships that got under way at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on Friday: Mandy Minella bt Amra Sadikovic 7-5, 6-2; Aleksandrina Naydenova bt Ying-Ying Duan 6-3, 6-3; Aryna Sabalenka bt Lyudmyla Kichenok 7-5, 6-0; Patricia Maria Tig bt Ayumi Morita 3-0 (retd.); Kai-Lin Zhang bt Alicja Rosoloska 6-3, 6-3; Risa Ozaki bt Nadia Kichenok 6-3, 6-4; Ons Jabeur bt Paula Cristina Goncalves 6-3, 6-3; Julia Boserup bt Anastasia Rodionova 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1); Kai-Chen Chang bt Fatima Al Nabhani 6-0, 6-1; Saisai Zheng bt Andreja Klepac 7-5, 6-4; Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez bt Lucie Hradecka 6-3, 6-4; Lin Zhu bt Miachaela Honcova 6-1, 6-4; Natalia Vikhlyantseva bt Darija Jurak 6-3, 6-2.
Order of Play (Saturday)
Court 1 (start at 10.30am) Aleksandrina Naydenova vs Aryna Sabalenka; (Not before 12 noon) Elise Mertens vs Andrea Hlavackova; Nao Hibino OR Gabriela Dabrowski vs Ons Jabeur; (Not before 2pm) Elise Mertens OR Andrea Hlavackova vs Patricia Maria Tig.
Court 2 (start at 10.30am) Mandy Minella vs Lin Zhu; (Not before 12 noon) Olga Savchuk vs Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
Court 3 (start at 10.30am) Julia Boserup vs Kai-Chen Chang; Natalia Vikhlyantseva vs Kai-Lin Zhang; (Not before 2pm) Risa Ozaki vs Olga Savchuk OR Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
Court 7 (start not before 12 noon) Saisai Zheng vs Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.