Dubai: Canada’s rising star Eugenie Bouchard was a step away from qualifying for the main draw of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open, that gets under way at the Dubai Tennis Stadium from Monday.
Bouchard, who took three sets in her opening round qualifier on Saturday, was a much improved player on Sunday as she breezed past Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-4.
The 19-year-old will now meet Annika Beck after the German took very little time in getting past Karin Knapp of Italy 6-0, 7-5. A win against Beck in Monday’s final round of qualifying will put Bouchard into the main draw where she may end up for an engrossing encounter either against Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur, Kaia Kanepi or Kirsten Flipkens.
“I definitely think I played better in my second round today (Sunday) than yesterday (Saturday),” Bouchard said.
“We had some pretty good rallies. She’s (Pironkova) low and fast, so I was able to take her ball and try and control and I was moving forward a lot, which is good because that’s what I want to do on the court,” she added.
Bouchard made a huge impression at last month’s Australian Open when she reached the semi-final en route defeating former world number one Ana Ivanovic before falling to eventual champion Li Na.
Making her first appearance in Dubai, Bouchard was wary of the one last hurdle before her on Monday morning.
“It’s a tough draw but I’m happy to be through [to the third round]. I’m just looking forward to having the chance to qualify,” she said.
Germany’s Mona Barthel was another big winner in the qualifiers with a hard-fought 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands. After losing the opening set, Barthel just hung on, saving two match points and then turning things around to eventually win the deciding third set on tie-breaker.
“She (Mattek-Sands) is a dangerous player. So the plan out there was to just hang in and go for my shots and fight for every ball. I think this worked pretty well for me today,” Barthel said.
Barthel will next meet Maryna Zanevska in their final qualifying round on Monday morning. “The last round is all that is on my mind at this moment,” Barthel said.
Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Austrian Yvonne Meusburger, seeded No 3 and 5 in the qualifying, set up a clash in the last round with contrasting wins. Pennetta used her superior experience to get past Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva 7-6, 6-0, while Meusburger had it going tough but managed to hold out for a 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 win against Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.