Defending Champion Bencic along with Seeds Svitolina and Kenin Lose in First Round of Dubai
(February 18, 2020) Defending champion Belinda Bencic, former winner and third seed Elina Svitolina and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin all fell in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. Bencic lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6, 6-1, 6-1, Svitolina was dismissed 6-2, 6-1 qualifier Jennifer Brady and Kenin was beaten by St. Petersburg finalist, Elena Rybakina 6-7 (2) 6-3 6-3 .
Bencic started the match by winning 19 straight points. The Russian totally reversed match.
“I just kept on fighting, still trying to hit every ball, trying to be there. Mentally I was quite positive, just playing point by point,” said Pavlyuchenkova, who last month reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
“Even though it was 5-0, I thought, Oh, my God, it’s embarrassing, so bad.
“I think it helped me going into the second set because I took that mentality, mindset of being positive and fighting, trying to do my thing. I was like, You know what, doesn’t matter what the score is, just play. Slowly just started to turn around, I started to find my game.”
At her news conference Bencic was still at a loss to explain what happened after the first set.
“I’m really not sure yet. I’m trying to analyze what went wrong or what was the turning point.”
“Yeah, I think sometimes it’s even too dangerous when you start very well, then just tennis turns it around. At this point I still don’t know what happened. Still looking for an answer.”
“I really tried to focus, tell myself that I have to keep going. I’m not sure if mentally I kind of underestimated her after (the first set) or something. I didn’t maybe expect her to play that well, to kill so many shots.”
“I’m certainly not very happy,” the Swiss player added. “Of course I’m disappointed. I feel like I have to work very hard to regain my confidence. I will definitely do that. I will give everything in every practice to be confident again.
“Hopefully one or two matches it can turn around the momentum, it can just click, then I can turn things around.”
For qualifier Jennifer Brady, this was her second win over a Top 10 player. “I think just going out there and believing that I could win,” said the American. “Obviously respecting my opponent, but not to the point where I put the opponent on a pedestal, have to think that I have to play my best tennis in order to win. I was just focused on my game plan, myself. Think I competed well from the very beginning.”
“I think I served pretty well throughout the whole match. Started off strong on the serve, was able to apply pressure on the return games. I was happy with the way I performed.”
She admitted that playing qualifying matches helps her.
“Every match you play, you get more used to the conditions, the court, the balls. You start to get in that competitive match mode.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s great to obviously have, going into the second round here, four matches under my belt. Yeah, I think it’s pretty good.”
Two-time champion and third seed Svitolina talked about the loss.
“It was not a bad start, but then everything just went downhill,” Svitolina said to media. “I wish I could regroup better. In the end, I didn’t feel so good the ball. Just everything was all over the place today. It’s very tough to say now what happen, why did I play the way I play. Yeah, I wish I could play better here because I really love to compete here. I have great memories. Yeah, it’s very, very tough for me.”
Elena Rybakina made her debut in the WTA Top 20 this weeks and has reached the finals of three of the four events she’s played.
“I had good pre-season actually,” said Rybakina. “First time I did like six weeks of preparation. I feel good on court. Of course, tired today because of the flight. I just finished a tournament. But still I feel confidence. To be honest, I didn’t (feel) nervous at all because I knew it’s going to be tough. I didn’t expect that I will win. I mean, I tried to do my best, but I was not nervous.”
“I just didn’t feel my game really well,” admitted Australian Open champion Kenin. “Of course, yeah, she played well. I just made too many unforced errors. I just didn’t take my chances. I felt really off the whole match. I tried to somehow get back in there, hang in there, but it just didn’t work out today.”
“I mean, she’s having a lot of match play. She’s having great results. She’s playing some really good tennis. I think this is the best tennis that I’ve seen her play. I know her, but I’ve never played her.
“Yeah, she’s playing big, serving, playing freely. She’s playing as if she has no pressure and it’s helping her.”
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
February 17-22, 2020
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
RESULTS – FEBRUARY 18, 2020
Singles – First Round
[Q] J. Brady (USA) d  [WC] E. Svitolina (UKR) 62 61
A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d  B. Bencic (SUI) 16 61 61
E. Rybakina (KAZ) d  S. Kenin (USA) 67(2) 63 63
 A. Sabalenka (BLR) d M. Sakkari (GRE) 62 46 61
 P. Martic (CRO) d [LL] S. Hsieh (TPE) 64 63
[Q] V. Kudermetova (RUS) d D. Yastremska (UKR) 57 63 76(2)
A. Kontaveit (EST) d [Q] S. Cirstea (ROU) 61 63
[Q] K. Siniakova (CZE) d K. Muchova (CZE) 64 46 60
[Q] K. Mladenovic (FRA) d [Q] A. Sasnovich (BLR) 64 63
Doubles – First Round
 B. Krejcikova (CZE) / S. Zheng (CHN) d A. Guarachi (CHI) / A. Rosolska (POL) 64 62
Ka. Pliskova (CZE) / Kr. Pliskova (CZE) d  S. Aoyama (JPN) / E. Shibahara (JPN) 62 62
X. Han (CHN) / S. Peng (CHN) d C. Lister (SWE) / R. Voracova (CZE) 46 75 10-6
K. Muchova (CZE) / M. Vondrousova (CZE) d J. Brady (USA) / A. Sevastova (LAT) 63 46 10-7
[WC] C. Garcia (FRA) / S. Mirza (IND) d [PR] A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 64 46 10-8
H. Carter (USA) / L. Stefani (BRA) d L. Hradecka (CZE) / A. Klepac (SLO) 67(4) 75 10-2
D. Krawczyk (USA) / A. Riske (USA) d K. Christian (USA) / O. Kalashnikova (GEO) 64 46 10-8
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2020
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[Q] K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs  Ka. Pliskova (CZE)
[Q] V. Kudermetova (RUS) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP)
E. Rybakina (KAZ) vs [Q] K. Siniakova (CZE)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 S. Halep (ROU) vs [WC] O. Jabeur (TUN)
A. Kontaveit (EST) vs A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
[Q] J. Brady (USA) vs M. Vondrousova (CZE)
 P. Martic (CRO) vs B. Strycova (CZE)
E. Mertens (BEL) vs  A. Sabalenka (BLR)
 B. Krejcikova (CZE) / S. Zheng (CHN) vs [WC] C. Garcia (FRA) / S. Mirza (IND)
COURT 2 start 2:00 pm
D. Krawczyk (USA) / A. Riske (USA) vs  H. Chan (TPE) / L. Chan (TPE)
after suitable rest –  G. Dabrowski (CAN) / S. Zhang (CHN) vs K. Muchova (CZE) / M. Vondrousova (CZE)
after suitable rest –  S. Hsieh (TPE) / B. Strycova (CZE) vs X. Han (CHN) / S. Peng (CHN)
COURT 3 start 2:00 pm
M. Ninomiya (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) vs  N. Melichar (USA) / Y. Xu (CHN)
after suitable rest – Ka. Pliskova (CZE) / Kr. Pliskova (CZE) vs H. Carter (USA) / L. Stefani (BRA)
after suitable rest – L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR) vs  Y. Duan (CHN) / V. Kudermetova (RUS)
after suitable rest if needed – S. Kenin (USA) / B. Mattek-Sands (USA) vs  K. Peschke (CZE) / D. Schuurs (NED)