Bouchard and Pennetta qualify for main draw

Canadian teenager Bouchard lost the first set 7-5 to her more experienced Russian opponent Vera Dushevina in the opening round.

By Alex Leach

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Published: Sun 16 Feb 2014, 12:29 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:10 PM

Eugenie Bouchard in action during the Qualifying Round against Vera Dushevina. — KT photo by Rahul Gajjar

Eugenie ‘Genie’ Bouchard and Flavia Pennetta survived early scares in their respective quests to qualify for the main draw of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Canadian teenager Bouchard, who is the world number 19 and seeded first in qualifying here, lost the first set 7-5 to her more experienced Russian opponent Vera Dushevina in the opening round.

Third seed and world number 22 Pennetta likewise trailed Kristina Kucova, of Slovakia, 6-3, yet both she and Bouchard bounced back to progress to Sunday’s second round with two-sets-to-one victories; Pennetta prevailing 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, while Bouchard emerged triumphant at 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Bouchard and Pennetta are the highest seeds in qualification after the second-ranked player, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, withdrew from the fray following her second-round exit in the Qatar Open on Tuesday.

Pavlyuchenkova’s place in the field was taken by American Abigail Spears, who led Germany’s Annika Beck 6-2, but lost the next two sets 6-0, 6-2.

Spears’ fellow countrywoman Varvara Lepchenko , who was elevated up to be the ninth seed on the back of Pavlyuchenkova’s non-appearance, fared little better as she went down in straight sets to the Ukraine’s Maryna Zanevska 6-4, 6-3.

All of the other five seeds made it safely through though, with Germany’s Andrea Petkovic (4th), Yvonne Meusburger (5th), of Austria, Italian Karin Knapp (6th), Bethanie Mattek-Sands from the USA (7th) and China’s Shuai Zhang (8th) reaching round two straightforwardly for the loss of just seven games or less respectively.

The tests are undoubtedly going to get increasingly tougher from here on in nonetheless, with Bouchard encountering the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova, of Bulgaria, next.

Pennetta faces Kazakh prospect Yulia Putintseva, whereas Petkovic meets Italian Camila Giorgi prior to the third and final phase on Monday morning.

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