Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (February 17,2019) – DUBAI, UAE Former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza needed more than two hours and seven match points to overcome Dayana Yastremska 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Sunday.
Muguruza, twice a semi-finalist in Dubai, would not have welcomed the draw, as she lost to Yastremska in straight sets both in Luxembourg at the end of last season and more recently at Hua Hin. Her young opponent, the only teenager ranked in the top 50, fearlessly went for her shots and only a lack of consistency prevented her claiming yet another victory over her more experienced opponent.
Another who flirted with defeat was 2018 finalist Daria Kasatkina, who is just 1-4 to start the year and she was pushed all the way by qualifier Magdalena Frech before emerging from their two hour 16 minute battle with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory.
Tenth seed Anastasija Sevastova was the only seed to fall on day one as she lost 6-4, 6-2 to Su-Wei Hsieh. Former champion Sara Errani was defeated 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 by qualifier Ivana Jorovic. Former top 10 star Ekaterina Makarova slumped to a 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Aliaksandra Sasnovich after leading by a set and 4-1 and by 2-0 in the deciding set.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich staged a dramatic fightback to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 0-6 7-5 6-4 and reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Sunday.
Makarova has been ranked in the top 10 and last year she enjoyed wins over former world No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and ninth-ranked Julia Goerges, as well as victories the year before over world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and No. 2 Simona Halep. And she appeared to be coasting to victory against Sasnovich as she led by a set and 4-1. But in a stunning turnaround, Sasnovich swept six of the next seven games to level the match, and then she recovered from 0-2 in the third set before winning the final four games.
The first seed to fall was No. 10 Anastasija Sevastova, beaten 6-4 6-2 by Su-Wei Hsieh, former finalist Alize Cornet reached the second round by beating Timea Babos 6-4, 6-3, and Kristina Mladenovic lined up a clash with top seed Naomi Osaka by beating Fatma Al Nabhani 6-1 6-1.
Osaka is playing her first tournament since winning the Australian Open and becoming the world No. 1, but she does not see being at the top of the rankings as her priority.
“Yeah, of course, I was really happy (to reach No. 1),” she said in Dubai on Sunday. “But I feel like, I don’t know… After the initial happiness, because it feels like a dream, and of course (when) you’re little, you want to be No. 1. That’s one of the things that comes out of your mouth whenever someone asks what your dream is. (But) I don’t know, I have that moment of happiness, then I just wanted to practice more.
“I don’t want to say I don’t care about being No. 1. Like winning tournaments is always the number one priority. I feel like if you can do that consistently, you’re going to be No. 1 no matter what. Yeah, rankings isn’t really my goal.”
“We are honoured to have the US and Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka, play her first tournament as the world No. 1 here in Dubai,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “She now faces the challenge of being the player that everyone wants to beat and it will be very interesting to see how she deals with the pressure that presents.”
The WTA event continues until 23rd February and features nine of the world’s top 10, including world No. 1, Australian Open and US Open champion Naomi Osaka, 2019 Sydney champion and Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, 2019 Brisbane winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova, 2018 Grand Slam winners Caroline Wozniacki, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber and former Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko.
The week of women’s tennis will be followed by the men’s event headed by seven-time champion Roger Federer, Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, defending champion and recent Doha winner Roberto Bautista Agut, former US Open winner Marin Cilic, Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori and two-time finalist Tomas Berdych.