Muguruza, Kasatkina survive day of upsets
Italian wild card Sara Errani bows out
On a day of upsets, last year's finalist Daria Kasatkina of Russia and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain had to dig deep to win their first round games at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
In the first match of the evening session on Sunday, Muguruza, the former world number one, had to come from behind to win a dramatic three-setter (4-6 6-3 6-3) against Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska.
The 21-year-old Kasatkina, on the other hand, found herself with a 4-1 deficit in the third set only to stage a superb fightback to win the next five games, booking her place in the second round.
Kasatkina's 6-3 3-6 6-4 win in the opening round may have earned her place in the next round, but she needs to raise her game if she wants to repeat her last year's Dubai heroics.
"It was a very tough match and I am happy that I managed to win the third set and the match from that difficult position," the world number 14 said.
"She (Frech) wasn't making it easy for me with her slices. But I managed to fight back in the third set," said Kasatkina who followed her runner-up finish in Dubai last year with a run to the final at the Indian Wells Masters.
While Kasatkina survived the first round scare in a tournament where nine of the world's top 10 players are competing for the title, Latvian 10th seed Anastasija Sevastova was knocked out of the competition by Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh in straight sets (6-4 6-2).
And Italian wild card Sara Errani, the 2016 Dubai winner, also lost her opening match to Serbian qualifier Ivana Jorovic (6-4 4-6 2-6).
But the day started with an easy win (6-1 6-1) for experienced Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic over Omani wild card Fatma Al Nabhani.
The 25-year-old Mladenovic, a regular at the Dubai tournament, will now take on world number one Naomi Osaka in the second round on Tuesday.
Few would expect Mladenovic to give Osaka, who is playing her first tournament after becoming world number one with her Australian Open triumph, a run for her money.
But on Sunday, Ekaterina Makarova, the hugely experienced Russian, suffered a second set collapse as she lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus (6-0 5-7 4-6).
In the first of the three Court Three battles on Sunday, Makarova was too good for the Belarusian in the opening set before taking a 4-1 lead in the second set. But Sasnovich hit back, winning six of the next seven games to take the match into the final set.
Makarova then broke her opponent to take a 2-0 lead in the third, but Sasnovich staged another fightback to end the Russian's hopes.
Meanwhile on Court Three, Switzerland's Belinda Bencic beat Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka 6-4 7-6 (8/6) and Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova got the better of American qualifier Bernarda Pera 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/3).
And Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, the 2014 Dubai runner-up, beat Hungarian Timea Babos 6-4 6-3 on Centre Court.
Singles: Kristina Mladenovic (France) beat (WC) Fatma Al Nabhani (Oman) 6-1 6-1; Alize Cornet (France) vs Timea Babos (Hungary) 6-4 6-3; (11) Daria Kasatkina (Russia) beat (Q) Magdalena Frech (Poland) 6-3 3-6 6-4; Su-Wei Hsieh (Taipei) beat (10) Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia) 6-4 6-2; Saisai Zheng (China) beat Ajla Tomljanovic (Australia) 6-2 4-6 7-5; Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) beat Yulia Putintseva (Kazaksthan) 6-3 2-0; (Q) Ivana Jorovic (Serbia) beat (WC) Sara Errani (Italy) 4-6 6-4 6-2; Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) beat Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 0-6 7-5 6-4; Viktoria Kuzmova (Slovakia) beat (Q) Bernarda Pera (USA) 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/3); Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) beat (Q) Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) 6-4 7-6 (8/6).
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