19 February 2017 – DUBAI, UAE: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was the first seed to fall at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships when she was defeated 7-6 (6) 2-6 6-4 by Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur.
The number fourteen seed has been ranked as high as eight in the world, holds eight titles and has reached five further finals, but she was unable to find a way past an opponent ranked a modest 172. Jabeur though has been in recent good form, reaching the quarter-finals of her last event in Taipei before falling to top seed and eventual champion Elina Svitolina. Ironically, Pavlyuchenkova actually won six more points than her opponent.
Sixteenth seed Roberta Vinci also fell, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but losing 3-6 7-5 6-3 to Kristyna Pliskova, sister of second seeded Karolina. The other seeds in action on the opening day fared better, with 12th seed Samantha Stosur defeating qualifier Kai-Lin Zhang 6-3 6-3 and 15th seed Caroline Garcia overcoming Johanna Larson 6-3 6-3. (Read: Play Gets Under Way At Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)
Jabeur was not the only qualifier to progress, as Saisai Zheng battled her way to a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Lara Arruabarrena. Her reward is a second round clash with seventh seeded Elina Svitolina.
In other notable matches, wild card Mona Barthel defeated former finalist Jelena Jankovic 6-1 6-3, and Laura Siegemund needed just three minutes short of three hours to overcome a determined challenge from qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
Watch Barthel-Jankovic Highlights
"The 2017 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is underway and on the very first day we have seen the Arab world's number one player upset a far more experienced opponent," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. "We congratulate Ons Jabeur on her victory and wish her well during the rest of the week."
The top eight seeds have a bye into the second round, and include US Open champion and world number two Angelique Kerber, 2017 Brisbane and Doha champion Karolina Pliskova, WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, and former Dubai winner Agnieszka Radwanska.
"No player is certain of success in such a competitive field and we have already seen one of our seeds upset by a qualifier," said tournament director Salah Tahlak. "There is every chance of similar unexpected results in the days ahead and we can look forward to many exciting contests. As well as matches involving star players on Centre Court, many more highly-ranked players will be free to watch on the outside courts, giving everyone the opportunity to see a week of world-class action."
Play in the WTA event continues until 25th February, and the tournament continues between 27th February and 4th March with the 25th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP World Tour Finals champion and world number one Andy Murray, Australian Open champion and seven-time Dubai winner Roger Federer, defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the entertaining Gael Monfils.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for every day of the event including the finals are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are also available online through www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.