Dubai: India's Sania Mirza was possibly the biggest casualty, falling in three sets against Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak in the women's singles first qualifying round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Dubai Tennis Stadium yesterday.
Mirza, a huge crowd-puller here after her exploits during the same tournament in 2005 where she defeated two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, started off well by winning the opening set. But the Indian — now a resident of Dubai with cricketer husband Shoaib Malek — just could not sustain the pressure on her opponent in the second and third sets as she lost 6-2, 3-6, 2-6 in an hour and 49 minutes.
Wozniak, a former world no 22, was thrilled with the win. "It feels good to make a comeback after I had an injury on my foot," she told Gulf News.
"She [Sania] started off very strong in the first set while I struggled with my game trying to hit too wide on the lines. But in the second set things got better and I got back my rhythm."
Also making the next round of the competition was Simona Halep with a 6-0, 6-0 blanking of Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, Germany's Mona Barthel secured an easy 6-3, 6-2 win over Great Britain's Anne Keothavong and Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez powered her way to a 6-4, 6-4 win against Belarusian Anastasiya Yakimova. The second round of qualifying continues today with play starting at 10.30am.
Results: (The first day of qualifiers for the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open at the Dubai Tennis Stadium yesterday) Aleksandra Wozniak bt Sania Mirza 2-6, 6-3, 6-2; Simona Halep bt Alla Kudryavtseva 6-0, 6-0; Mona Barthel bt Anne Keothavong 6-3, 6-2; Maria Jose Martinez bt Anastasiya Yakimova 6-4, 6-4; Kateryna Bondarenko bt Chanelle Scheepers 5-7, 6-4, 6-2; Arantxa Rus bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 2-6, 6-1, 6-4; Eleni Daniilidou bt Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3; Bojana Jovanovski bt Kurumi Nara 6-4, 7-5; Ayumi Morita bt Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-3; Casey Dellacqua bt Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 1-6, 6-2; Ons Jabeur bt Jie Zheng 6-3, 7-6; Petra Martic bt Iryna Bremond 6-0, 6-1; Iveta Benesova bt Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3.