Dubai: Former world number four and Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova survived anxious moments before carving out her first win for 2019 with a lop-sided 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 result over Spanish qualifier Lara Arruabarrena, while 14th seed Caroline Garcia eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-0 in late night action of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, late on Monday.
Leading 5-1 and 40-0 in the first set, the 2014 Australian Open finalist suffered a meltdown that saw Arruabarrena win the next seven games and take the set 7-5. But, Cibulkova responded quickly winning the next two sets 6-1 and 6-2 to book a place in the second round against fourth seed Karolina Pliskova.
“It is my first win for the season and even though it wasn’t easy, it was special,” Cibulkova said after spending nearly two hours on centre court.
“I think it was an issue with concentration, but she [Arruabarrena] took the risks and made it happen in that first set. I feel happy and pleased with the way I responded for this win,” she added.
Cibulkova started 2019 in Sydney with a first round loss to Samantha Stosur. A week later, she fell to China Zhang Shuai in three sets in the first round at the Australian Open. He next opponent will be fourth seed Pliskova. “It won’t be an easy match for sure as she is such a talented player,” Cibulkova said.
Cibulkova achieved her highest ranking of No.4 in March 2017, but her continuous struggles with form led her slide down the rankings through much of last year. The Slovak now sits in No. 28.
Seeded No.14 here, Garcia was the last one into Round Two of the singles later on Monday. Down to an early break, the 25-year-old Frenchwoman recovered well to surge clear at 4-2 and take the set 6-2 oin 28 minutes. The second was a stroll as Garcia took complete control and rolled off 6-0 in 62 minutes to set a meeting in the second round with American qualifier Jennifer Brady.
On Tuesday, all of the eight seeds will be in action with second seed Petra Kvitova kicking off proceedings on centre court while taking on Katerina Siniakova at 11 am. In the second session that is scheduled to start off at 7 pm, the new world number one Naomi Osaka will play Kristina Mladenovic.
Order of play Tuesday
Centre Court (Start at 11 am) Katerina Siniakova vs Petra Kvitova; Ons Jabeur vs Elina Svitolina; Simona Halep vs Eugenie Bouchard; Angelique Kerber vs Dalila Jakupovic; (Not before 7 pm) Naomi Osaka vs Kristina Mladenovic; Lara Arruabarrena OR Dominika Cibulkova vs Karolina Pliskova.
Court 1 (Start at 12 noon) Kiki Bertens vs Viktoria Kuzmova; Garbine Muguruza vs Saisai Zheng; Lesia Tsurenko vs Lin Zhu; Ivana Jorovic vs Aryna Sabalenka.
Court 2 (Start at 12 noon) Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs Su-Wei Hsieh; Alison Riske vs Alize Cornet; Caroline Garcia OR Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Jennifer Brady.
Court 3 (Start at 12 noon) Sofia Kenin vs Daria Kasatkina; Carla Suarez Navarro vs Shuai Zhang; Stefanie Voegele vs Belinda Bencic.
Court 7 (Start at 12 noon) Darija Jurak/Raluca Olaru vs Nicole Melichar/Kveta Peschke; Gabriela Dabrowski/Yifan Xu vs Sarah Beth Grey/Eden Silva; Miyu Kato/Makoto Ninomiya vs Su-Wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova; Ons Jabeur/Alison Riske vs Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova.