Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 19, 2023

Leylah Fernandez sets up early clash with world No. 1 Iga Swiatek at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Leylah Fernandez wins on Day 1 of the 2023 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Former US Open finalist Fernandez turns up the volume inside Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and overcomes Austria’s Julia Grabher under the lights on exciting day one
Tickets for annual WTA and ATP tournaments are available online now with prices starting from Dh55

Dubai, UAE – February 19, 2023: A thrilling first evening under the lights at the 23rd Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships saw 20-year-old US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez breeze through her first-round match to set-up a scintillating second-round tie with world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

Canadian Fernandez, who has Filipino roots on her mother’s side, enjoyed strong support inside the Garhoud venue as she comfortably defeated Austria’s Julia Grabher, 6-4, 6-2, in chilly conditions on Centre Court. Making her debut in the emirate, she seemed to revel in the encouragement from vocal fans.

PHOTOS: Browse Day 1 gallery

“It’s not the hottest tonight, so I need to thank all those who came out to support us,” said Fernandez, ranked world No.39 and chasing a third WTA singles title. “I enjoyed the atmosphere. l loved the crowd and the way they were cheering for us. Hopefully they can come for my next match too.”

Leylah Fernandez

That next match carries great promise. Swiatek, a three-time Grand Slam champion, was a late arrival in Dubai as she claimed a 12th WTA singles title on Saturday night with victory in Doha. Fernandez, who reached a career-high world No.13 last August, was asked about her game plan against the top-seeded Polish star.

READ MORE: Keys, Kvitova, Samsonova among early winners on Day 1 of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

“Well, for that I have got to talk to my coaches and try to execute their game plan as much as I can,” she said. “One thing I will do is enjoy my time on court with her because she’s been doing great these past couple of years and I am sure it’s going to be a great match.”

Starting just after 7pm on Sunday, Fernandez broke Grabher’s service game in the fifth, but Grabher restored balance by breaking back in the eighth. Grabher, 26 years old and ranked No.90 in the world, was making her WTA 1000 debut, but 20-year-old Fernandez quickly regained advantage, immediately breaking serve once more and closing out the opening set in under 40 minutes.

Leylah Fernandez

In the second set, Fernandez continued where she left off, breaking Grabher’s service game at the first time of asking and replicating the feat at the next opportunity to race to a 4-0 lead. At times playing an aggressive serve-and-volley style, Fernandez mixed in some powerful forehands and cross-court backhands, much to the crowd’s delight, as she wrapped up the victory.

In the evening’s second match under the floodlights, Ukrainian wildcard Marta Kostyuk fought back from a set down to defeat Turkish wildcard Ipek Oz, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. In the first set, world No.50 Kostyuk failed to defend three break points against an opponent positioned 146 places below her in the WTA rankings, but found her range early in the second to hit five aces on route to squaring the tie. In the final set, she broke Oz’s first two service games and saw out the set with relative ease.

“I just had to keep on fighting,” said Kostyuk, who will face No.8 seed Belinda Bencic in the second round. “I wasn’t my best day today and she played really good – it happens. It was windy too and she is lefty, which is never easy. But I’m very happy with the win because a win is a win. It doesn’t matter how it comes. Now I’m just hoping to be more consistent throughout the year.”

Grab Your Seats

Tickets for the 31st edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are on sale now at dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/tickets, starting from Dh55. Tickets are also available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office between 9am and 9pm daily. The Championships starts with the 23rd staging of the WTA event, which runs until February 25, before the 31st staging of the ATP Tour 500 tournament from February 26 to March 4. Both events carry equal prize money.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

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