Monday at the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was all about the return of two champions, who highlighted the day’s 12 singles matches.
Daniela Hantuchova was the first of the mentioned champions to play on Monday. The Slovakian had just won the PTT Pattaya Open on Sunday, having had to fly in from Thailand to Dubai and adjust to different climate in time for her first-round match in just 24 hours.
The busy travel schedule and the toll of having played a full tournament in very humid climate the week beforehand amazingly didn’t seem to slow the Slovakian down, as Hantuchova edged out a 7-6 lead against Mona Barthel in the first set and had enough energy in the tank to finish it off in three sets after 2:39 hrs of match play.
The second night match saw the return of the reigning champion, as Venus Williams kicked off her campaign to defend her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title. The seasoned veteran met up with one of the WTA’s most promising talents, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
The 17-year old Swiss talent and the twice as old multiple Grand Slam champion played two times before, in 2012 and 2014, and both times Williams schooled the youngster in straight sets. Unfortunately for Bencic, it was the same story in Dubai tonight and Venus Williams had little problems to complete her first Dubai match 6-1 6-2.
Spectators in Dubai got to witness another return on the outer courts, as former world #2 Vera Zvonareva played her first round match against Camila Giorgi, making one of her rare appearances in a WTA main draw these days. Zvonareva, who has been struggling with a long-term shoulder injury since the Olympic Games in 2012, has dropped far down the rankings and even played a 10k ITF tournament in Hong Kong in December. Her way back up to the top will be a lengthy one, as the Russian’s Dubai campaign ended with a straight-set loss against the young Italian.
With the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships having a 64-player singles draw thanks to the tournament’s Premier 5 status, Tuesday will be exceptionally busy. No less than 15 singles matches are on the agenda, including all of the tournament’s top seeds.
The four top seeds will be having their hands full with their second-round matches. Agnieszka Radwanska will play Caroline Garcia, Ana Ivanovic will be challenged by Sabine Lisicki and 2013 Dubai champ Petra Kvitova will meet Elina Svitolina for her first match inside the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.
Check back to Women’s Tennis Blog for full live coverage of all these exciting matches tomorrow!