Dubai Duty Free Tennis championship holder Garbine Muguruza had to dig deep to claw her way into the second round in Garhoud on Tuesday evening.
The Spanish fourth seed looked to be on her way after claiming the first set against Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova in a tiebreak, but looked rattled as she was outclassed in the second before gathering her composure to register a fraught 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 win.
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The biggest upset so far came as third seed Paula Badosa was defeated by qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse.
“These matches are never easy,” said muguruza. “I know this place well and it is great to have the fans back, but there is not one player here you could ever consider easy.”
Among other matches played on Tuesday, top seed Aryna Sabalenka eased past qualifier Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-1, 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin was overwhelmed 6-1, 6-2 by Jelena Ostapenko, recent Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins retired with dizziness after taking the first set 6-2 from qualifier Marketa Vondrousova before falling behind 3-0 in the second.
Muguruza struggled to fight off the spirited challenge of Siniakova, who held a point to take the opening set after breaking to lead 5-3, but she double-faulted and then again to concede her serve and Muguruza went on to take the tiebreak. Siniakova always held the advantage in the second set, and it wasn’t until late in the third set that Muguruza finally looked comfortable as she claimed a 7-6 2-6 6-2 victory.
Badosa struggled to overcome a determined opponent, who served for victory at 5-4 in the second set but lost the next three games. But Ruse refused to give up the fight, and when she broke to also lead the final set 5-4 she this time calmly closed out the match to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
“Elena-Gabriela Ruse’s victory over world number five Paula Badosa underlines what a challenge any top player has when they face an opponent who has drawn confidence from winning three matches to reach the main draw,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “In contrast, it was Badosa’s first ever match in Dubai and we look forward to welcoming her back in the future.”
A. Sabalenka beat M. Kostyuk 6-4, 6-1
K. Siniaková lost to G. Muguruza 6-7, 6-2, 2-6
D. Collins lost to M. Vondroušová 6-2, 0-3 (ret)
A. Tomljanovićlost to V. Gracheva 1-6, 5-7
V. Kudermetova beat V. Azarenka 6-3, 6-4
V. Zvonareva lost to O. Jabeur 2-6, 6-2, 5-7
E. Mertens lost to J. Teichmann 2-6, 4-6
E. Svitolina beat M. Sherif 6-2, 6-3
P. Badosa lost to E. Ruse 3-6, 7-5, 4-6
I. Begu lost to D. Yastremska 6-4, 2-6 3-6
S. Kenin lost to J. Ostapenko 1-6, 2-6