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Dubai Duty Free Tennis: Arab star Jabeur dusts off the rust; Top seed Sabalenka breezes past Kostyuk

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur plays a backhand against Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the first round of WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. — Supplied photo
Tunisia's Ons Jabeur plays a backhand against Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the first round of WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins retires due to dizziness


James Jose

Published: Tue 15 Feb 2022, 11:21 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Feb 2022, 11:33 PM

She’s not quite there just yet after a back injury sustained in Sydney saw the Tunisian withdraw from the season-opening Australian Open. And, quite obviously, Ons Jabeur was a bit rusty, but the Arab hope managed to keep it all together to see off Russian qualifier Vera Zvonareva’s challenge to move into the second round of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, top seed and world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus breezed past Ukrainian qualifier Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-1 to set up a second round meeting with 2013 champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

On a day which witnessed Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse fell third seed and world No.5 Spaniard Paula Badosa, and Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins, the American ninth seed and world No.11 retire due to dizziness, after winning the first set and trailing 0-3 in the second, Jabeur had to dig deep against the 37-year-old from Moscow. The world No.10, who had reached a career-high No.7 at the end of last year, conjured a strong and powerful serve on the second match point to triumph 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 in a match that lasted two hours and six minutes on Centre Court at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Just before Jabeur came on Centre Court, another young Arab hope, the promising Egyptian Mayar Sherif, handed a wildcard for the tournament, went down to two-time Dubai champion Ukrainian 10th seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3.

Meanwhile, defending champion and fourth seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza had a fight on her hands against Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova before the world No.7 prevailed 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes.

“It was a very, very tough match. You can feel like I haven't been playing so many matches lately,” said Jabeur, who was playing her first match since retiring from the Sydney quarterfinals, due to the injury.

“To be honest, the most important thing was to be healthy and to be able to finish this match. I was struggling a lot at the beginning of the season, so I wasn't really sure. I didn't want to anticipate any results or think about winning or losing. So, yeah, I'm very grateful to be healthy,” she added.

Jabeur revealed that it was disappointing to miss out on the Australian Open, where she had reached the quarterfinals two years ago.

“I was very sad and disappointed, but also very patient. I tried everything possible to play the match. I even warmed up that day, put every possible tape on my back. Unfortunately it wasn't possible for me to play. I got to say I'm very proud of myself because a few years back I would have played and injured myself more. But this time I felt like I was more mature, and was able to think about my body. But, yeah, everything happens for a reason. I'm just trying to be patient, to be honest, and get this season going,” said the 27-year-old, the highest ranked Arab player in ATP and WTA rankings history.

Jabeur next goes up against American world No.14 Jessica Pegula in the second round.

“She’s a very tough player, not easy, not someone that gives you a great rhythm to play. I won the last time in Chicago and I was feeling very good there. But I'm expecting a very, very difficult match. I still need to talk to my coach. I'm just coming back. To be honest, I don't want to put the pressure on myself. I know she's going to play great. I mean, let's see. I'm going to try to deliver my magic,” Jabeur said.

Sania-Hradecka through

Meanwhile, India’s Sania Mirza and her partner Czech Republic’s Lucie Hradecka had to work hard to see off Hao-Ching Chan and Demi Schuurs in the doubles round of 16.

Sania, who had revealed that this would be her swansong season, and Hradecka were taken the distance before they prevailed 7-6 (3), 5-7, 11-9 over the the Chinese Taipei-Netherlands pair.

Sania had won the doubles title in 2013 along with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and was runners-up with Russian Elena Vesnina in 2012.

RESULTS (Round1):


[1] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) beat [Q] Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-4, 6-1

[10] Elena Svitolina (UKR) beat [WC] Mayar Sherif (EGY) 6-2, 6-3

[8] Ons Jabeur (TUN) beat [Q] Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-2, 2-6, 7-5

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) beat Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-1, 6-2

[Q] Elena -Gabriela Ruse (ROU) beat [3] Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4

[Q] Jil Teichmann (SUI) beat Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-2, 6-4

[4] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) beat [Q] Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-2

[Q] Varvara Gracheva (RUS) beat [Q] Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-1, 7-5

Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) beat Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-3, 6-4

[Q] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) beat Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 4-6, 6-2, 5-3

[Q] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) beat Danielle Collins (USA) 2-6, 3-0 Retd.

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