Dubai, Feb 15 Defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain opened her title defense at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships with a tricky 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2 first-round win over Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova on Tuesday.

No.4 seed Muguruza claimed the topsy-turvy affair in 2 hours and 24 minutes, leveling her head-to-head with 45th-ranked Siniakova at two wins apiece.

World No.7 Muguruza won the first of her three 2021 titles in Dubai last year, besting then-surprise finalist Barbora Krejcikova in the championship match, according to a report on wtatennis.com

But in her eighth consecutive appearance at the tournament, Muguruza needed to work hard to extend her 2022 campaign beyond her opener versus Krejcikova’s compatriot and doubles partner Siniakova.

Siniakova, the No.1-ranked doubles player on tour, was seeking her eighth career singles victory over a Top 10 player, and had beaten Muguruza in their last two meetings, including in Montreal last year.

Qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse scored the biggest win of her career, coming from 4-1 down in the decider to upset No.3 seed Paula Badosa 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in 2 hours and 32 minutes.

Ruse had been winless in 10 previous matches against Top 30 opposition, and had not taken a set in either of her two prior clashes with Top 10 players. A junior peer of Badosa, she had also lost to the Spaniard in both of their matches at that level.

Svitolina advances past Sherif

No.10 seed and two-time champion Elina Svitolina also moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 win over wildcard Mayar Sherif in 1 hour and 27 minutes. The Ukrainian, who won Dubai in 2017 and 2018, was too solid for World No.65, who repeatedly overpressed in a bid to keep control of the court.

The report said, Sherif, who became the first Egyptian woman to reach a WTA final in Cluj-Napoca last August, showed off her best tennis when attempting to fight off danger. She conjured a series of sweet drop shots when serving to stay in the first set and when facing breakpoints at the start of the second.

Elsewhere, a battle of unseeded former Grand Slam champions saw Jelena Ostapenko rout Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-2 in only 52 minutes. The Latvian fired seven aces and dropped six points behind her first serve. After falling behind by an early break in the second set, Ostapenko raced through the next six games for the loss of six more points.

Ostapenko will next take on No.6 seed Iga Swiatek, while Svitolina will face Jil Teichmann. In a first-round match that pitted last year’s two losing semifinalists against each other, Teichmann got the better of Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-4.

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