Dubai: Former world number one Garbine Muguruza and 2018 runner-up Daria Kasatkina were among the early escapees with hard-fought wins on the opening day of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, on Sunday.
Muguruza was pushed to her limits by Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska – the youngest in the main draw here this week – before scraping through 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to set up a Round Two meeting with China’s Saisai Zheng.
On a night that saw both players struggle to adjust to early evening court conditions, it was the Ukrainian holding for the first time in the fifth for a 3-2 lead to serve out the set in 45 minutes.
Yastremska, the only teenager who is in the top-50, displayed a fierce to contest, but she lacked the consistency in play as Muguruza ran away with the second and third in two hours and six minutes.
The two players had met twice earlier and this was the first time that Muguruza was winning against Yastremska – a winner in Hua Hin, Thailand earlier this year and in Luxembourg last year. “She’s done well in the past against me and I had to raise my levels today,” Muguruza said.
“I feel that I am certainly close to playing my best and I need to work on several aspects of my game as I progress here. I am ready to fight,” the Spaniard added as she prepared to meet China’s Saisai Zheng on Tuesday.
Last year’s Kasatkina was the second one powering through to the next round with a well-contested 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Polish qualifier Magdalena Frech. Kasatkina – losing finalist to Elina Svitolina last year – survived anxious moments before clawing through in three sets against Frech.
After winning the opening set, the eleventh-seeded Russian saw her opponent take the second. In the third, the 2018 runner-up trailed 0-4, but did enough to break back a couple of times and then serve out set and match in over two hours.
Bouchard was the third big name easing through into the next round with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Belarussian Vera Lapko in the final match of the night.
Bouchard, the first Canadian to reach top-5 way back in 2014, was always in control as she advanced in straight sets for a meeting with third seed Simona Halep.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich staged a dramatic fightback to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 0-6, 7-5, 6-4. Makarova has been ranked in the top 10 and last year she enjoyed wins over former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and ninth-ranked Julia Goerges.
A year before, the Russian had victories over world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and No. 2 Simona Halep.
On Sunday, she seemed to be coasting to victory against Sasnovich as she led by a set and 4-1.
But in a stunning turnaround, Sasnovich swept six of the next seven games to level the match, and then she recovered from 0-2 in the third set before winning the final four games.
Earlier during the day, No. 10 Anastasija Sevastova was the first seed to depart after being beaten 6-4, 6-2 by 2017 Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge champion Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, while former finalist Alize Cornet advanced beating Timea Babos 6-4, 6-3 and Kristina Mladenovic lined up a clash with top seed Naomi Osaka after dispatching Oman’s Fatma Al Nabhani 6-1, 6-1.
Italian Sara Errani, one of four wild cards was also sent off packing by qualifier Ivana Jorovic of Serbia 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the other upset of the opening day.
(Singles) Kristina Mladenovic bt Fatma Al Nabhani 6-1, 6-1; Alize Cornet bt Timea Babos 6-4, 6-3; Daria Kasatkina bt Magdalena Frech 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; Su-Wei Hsieh bt Anastasija Sevastova 6-4, 6-2; Saisai Zheng bt Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 4-6, 7-5; Lesia Tsurenko bt Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 2-0 (retd.); Aliaksandra Sasnovich bt Ekaterina Makarova 0-6, 7-5, 6-4; Viktoria Kuzmova bt Bernarda Pera 7-6, 7-6; Belinda Bencic bt Lucie Hradecka -4, 7-6; Ivana Jorovic bt Sara Errani 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; Garbine Muguruza bt Dayana Yastremska 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Eugenie Bouchard bt Vera Lapko 6-3, 6-4.
(Doubles) Darija Jurak/Raluca Olaru bt Jennifer Brady/Sabrina Santamaria 6-4, 7-5; Miyu Kato/Makoto Ninomiya bt Xinyun Han/Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-1; Lara Arruabarrena/Kaitlyn Christian bt Raquel Atawo/Katarina Srebotnik 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (4); Jelena Ostapenko/Katerina Siniakova bt Julia Elbaba/Alena Fomina 6-2, 6-3.