Coco Gauff made it through in Dubai
Coco Gauff made it through in Dubai Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: American teen sensation Coco Gauff ensured the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships got off to a thrilling start as she scraped into the second round in Garhoud as she eventually saw off Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova in three exhausting sets - 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.

The unseeded teenager Gauff is hyped as a future Grand Slam champion and — while there were no fans in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic — she still put on a dramatic show, to ensure she will grow her following.

Meanwhile, Tunisia star Ons Jabeur ensured she was in the second round as she saw off the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova. The Tunisian is a favourite in the UAE as she ran deep into the inaugural Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open earlier this year, losing to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka and she also tested eventual Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in Melbourne before bowing out.

“If you look at the results without seeing any of the matches, you might think it’s bad, but I’ve been playing good lately,” she was reported as saying. “I played Sabalenka who won the tournament and Osaka who won the tournament, so it’s tough to be too hard on myself. But I always want to play better.

“You could see I was getting quite angry with myself on court today because I see myself playing well and producing good results, but in the end its second and third rounds and I see myself in finals and winning titles. I want to use that anger to play well and to show the player I am and hopefully the season can be better now.”

Elsewhere, Grand Slam finalist Alize Cornet of France overcame Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. However, she has a tough task ahead of her as she will now face Abu Dhabi champion Sabalenka, the 13th seed.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, a serial Dubai finalist, slogged to a hard-fought 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 victory over China’s Qiang Wang. Kuznetsova — who reached the final in 2004, 2008, and 2011 — now faces No. 1 seed and two-time champion Elina Svitolina.

Veronika Kudermetova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6, 6-2, while Anastasija Sevastova eased past Bernarda Pera 6-0, 6-3.