Liudmila Samsonova
Relief writ large on Liudmila Samsonova’s face after she defeated Paula Badosa in a three-hour 21-minute battle in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on February 19, 2023. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Fourteenth seed Liudmila Samsonova of Russia survived a scare from unseeded Paulo Badosa of Spain to win 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 after a more than three-hour duel in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament on Sunday.

In other Centre Court action, 12th seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic despatched Martina Trevisan of Italy 6-2, 6-1, while Madison Keys of the United States routed Jasmine Polini of Italy 6-1, 6-1.

It was Samsonova’s battle of attrition with Badosa that kept the spectators engrossed. After losing the first set tiebreak to former world number two Badosa, Samsonova clawed back and levelled the match with a tiebreak win. And that it was Samsonova all the way, as the Russian wrapped up the match in three hours and 21 minutes.

“It is a big win for me,” a grinning Samsonova said at the post-match press conference. “It was too much after three hours.”

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The Russian sure was worried in the first when Badosa, a Dubai resident, reeled off seven points in a row. “I tried to stay positive. I tried to focus on every point. I missed so many chances in the tiebreak. I tried to stay there mentally, Samsonova added.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez brought plenty of cheer to the sizeable Filipino contingent in the Dubai Tennis Stadium, quelling the challenge of Austrian Julian Grabher 6-4, 6-2. The World No. 39 set up a round two meeting with top seed and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who comes to Dubai fresh after the win in the Qatar Open.

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk rallied from a first-set deficit to close out the day’s proceedings with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Turkey’s Ipek Oz, who had won a wild card.

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The results

Women’s singles (first round):

Madison Keys beat Jasmine Paolini 6-1, 6-1

Petra Kvitova beat Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-1

Luidmiliu Samsonova beat Paula Badosa 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.

Leylah Fernandez beat Julia Grabher 6-4, 6-2

Marta Kostyuk beat Ipek Oz 4-6, 6-4, 2-2

Barbora Krejcikova beat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 6-2

Marie Bouzkova beat Soif Kenin 6-1, 6-1

Amanda Anisimova beat Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2

Linda Fruhvirtova beat Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-4.

Dayana Yastremska beat Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-3

Qinwen Zheng beat Shuai Zhang 6-3, 6-1

Viktoriya Tomova beat Kaia Kaneip 6-3, 6-1

Doubles (first round):

Kalainskaya/Yondrousova 3-6, 6-3, 16-14

Kato/Sutjiadi beat Bogdan/Gabueva 7-6, 6-3

Pavlyuchenkova/Rybakina beat Flipkens/Siegemund 6-2, 6-4

Babos/Mladenovic beatAlexandrova/Mihalikova 6-3, 7-6

Sasnovich/Xu beat Dart/Silva 4-6, 6-1, 10-6.

Eikeri/Rosolska beat Guarachi/Routliffe 6-2, 7-6