Dubai: Dutch girl Arantxa Rus and fifth seed Katerina Siniakova advanced to the second round in contrasting styles on the opening day of the 23rd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa on Monday.
Rus brushed off wild card Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the next round of the singles main draw while fifth-seeded Siniakova of the Czech Republic took her time to settle before a fighting 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 win against a second wild card Ankita Raina of India later in the evening.
Konjuh, one of the four wild cards in the draw, could not get a hold of her opponent’s game and succumbed quite easily in just 71 minutes. The seventh seed here, Rus will next meet the winner of the match between Hungary’s Timea Babos and China’s Xiyu Wang scheduled to be held on Tuesday.
Raina, on the other hand, got her campaign off to a dominating start with breaks in the fourth and sixth games to sweep through the opening set 6-1 in less than half an hour.
But in the second set, the 27-year-old Indian – one of the heroes of her country’s Fed Cup exploits at the Dubai Tennis Stadium earlier this year – saw her Czech opponent fight back with breaks in the fourth and eighth games and draw level 6-2.
The decider was evenly poised and started off with an early exchange of breaks. The 24-year-old Siniakova moved clear with a break in the fourth, but found the Pune-based Raina breaking right back for 2-3. However, the Indian couldn’t sustain the momentum and succumbed to a third break after which the Czech held for 5-2 and then another break was enough for her to win in two hours and five minutes.
The main round matches will continue on Tuesday with former world No.10 and top seed Kristina Mladenovic waiting for her match against one of the eight qualifiers coming through. It may be recalled that the 27-year-old French girl had lost to 17-year-old qualifier Daria Snigur in the semi-finals last year.
Mladenovic reached her highest WTA singles ranking of world No.10 in October 2017 and then less than two years later, she peaked at No.1 in the doubles rankings. Mladenovic’s success in singles includes two Grand Slam quarter-final appearances at the 2015 US Open and the 2017 French Open. The Dubai-based player is currently No.49 on the WTA Rankings.
Romania’s Ana Bogdan had capped off a perfect second week on the trot with a 6-1, 6-2 win against teenage qualifier Snigur for the singles crown last year. The 27-year-old Bogdan - winner of a $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in November last year - had capped her biggest tournament career success after getting past her 17-year-old opponent from Ukraine.
(Singles main draw Round One) Katerina Siniakova bt Ankita Raina 1-6, 6-2, 6-2; Arantxa Rus bt Ana Konjuh 6-1, 6-2.
(Singles qualifying rounds) Anna Karolina Schmiedlova bt Reka-Luca Jani 6-4, 7-5; Mika Fruchtman Dagan bt Mariam Bolkvadze 7-5, 2-6, 10-8; Elena Gabriela Ruse bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-4; Jaqueline Adina Cristian bt Amina Anshba 6-2, 6-0; Aleksandra Krunic bt Kamilla Rakhimova 6-0, 6-2; Ekaterine Gorgodze bt Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 1-6, 10-7; Elisabetta Cocciaretto bt Tereza Mihalikova 0-6, 6-1, 10-7.