Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Dubai, UAE – February 15 2022: A dramatic day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships saw defending champion Garbine Muguruza stretched by qualifier Katerina Siniakova, Ons Jabeur edge past Vera Zvonareva and third seed Paula Badosa defeated by qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse.
Among other matches played on Tuesday, top seed Aryna Sabalenka eased past qualifier Marta Kostyuk 6-4 6-1, 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin was overwhelmed 6-1 6-2 by Jelena Ostapenko, recent Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins retired with dizziness after taking the first set 6-2 from qualifier Marketa Vondrousova before falling behind 3-0 in the second, and promising Egyptian wild card Mayar Sherif was defeated 6-2 6-3 by former two-time champion Elina Svitolina.
Muguruza struggled to fight off the spirited challenge of Siniakova, who held a point to take the opening set after breaking to lead 5-3, but she double-faulted and then again to concede her serve and Muguruza went on to take the tiebreak. Siniakova always held the advantage in the second set, and it wasn’t until late in the third set that Muguruza finally looked comfortable as she claimed a 7-6 2-6 6-2 victory.
Jabeur overcame Zvonareva 6-2 2-6 7-5 in another centre court thriller after being stretched to the limit. In a dramatic finale, the outcome remained in the balance until the final ball. Zvonareva opened the door by serving two consecutive double-faults that allowed Jabeur to break to lead 6-5 in the final set, but the Tunisian then had to fight off three break points before securing victory on her second match point.
”Very, very tough match. I tried to be focused as much as possible,” said Jabeur, who last month suffered a back injury that kept her out of the Australian Open. “She plays good. It’s not easy to play her. Honestly I didn’t feel so many shots. I think lack of matches didn’t help me much. I’m glad that the little experience I had helped me to win this match today.
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“I tried to not, like, let her get in my head, not let myself get in my head. Sometimes with a lot of mistakes, it’s not easy to be focused, to let the frustration take over. I felt like today I got angry a little bit, but not as much as before. I’m really happy with the fact I maintained calm, belief to win until the last second of the match.”
Although Sherif failed to advance beyond the first round she cherished the opportunity to test herself against top class opposition.
“I think in general it’s a positive experience because I see where the level is, I see where I’m at, and just to take my game forward and improve,” she said. “It was obviously exciting going onto the court my first time playing this tournament. It’s been very welcoming. They have been great with us since we have arrived. It just gave me motivation. Also to feel the help from the Arab community, that gives you a lot of confidence I would say.”
And she has been inspired by what Ons Jabeur has achieved, saying, “Just having Ons around, seeing her around, the position where Ons is right now, it just gives you so much hope. Just looking at where she is right now, it gives you a lot of confidence, it gives you a way to be patient, to see where she is now, hoping for that to come.”
“The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is delighted to recognise and support the growing influence of women in the Arab tennis world, and the tournament wild card awarded to Mayar Sherif was richly deserved,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Ons Jabeur is an inspiration to others and is now a member of the world’s top 10, and we look forward to seeing if Mayar Sherif can follow in her footsteps. We wish both of them well in the months and years ahead.”
Badosa struggled to overcome a determined opponent, who served for victory at 5-4 in the second set but lost the next three games. But, rather than becoming deflated at having victory denied her, Ruse refused to give up the fight, and when she broke to also lead the final set 5-4 she this time calmly closed out the match to win 6-3 5-7 6-4.
“Elena-Gabriela Ruse’s victory over world number five Paula Badosa underlines what a challenge any top player has when they face an opponent who has drawn confidence from winning three matches to reach the main draw,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “In contrast, it was Badosa’s first ever match in Dubai and we look forward to welcoming her back in the future.”
The WTA event continues until 19th February, and then between 21st and 26th February the tournament celebrates the 30th anniversary of the ATP Tour 500 tournament when world number one Novak Djokovic will be bidding for his sixth Dubai title. For ticket information, visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/tickets/
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.