Tuesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was full of upsets, as reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, defending champion Belinda Bencic, and 2017 and 2018 tournament titlist Elina Svitolina all fell in the first round.
Just two days after playing the St. Petersburg final and a day after making a Top 20 debut, Elena Rybakina continues her astonishing season by eliminating fresh Melbourne champion Sofia Kenin 6-7(2) 6-3 6-3. The Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina leads the tour in three-set wins this year, having won all seven deciders she’s played so far. Moreover, Rybakina topped the WTA ace leaderboard with 104 aces and match win leaderboard (15-3 win-loss) heading into Dubai.
Belinda Bencic‘s match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was very strange. The Swiss defending champion won the first 19 points of the first set and was just five points away from a Golden Set, but then evaporated into the air to lose 1-6 6-1 6-1 as Pavs started blasting winners.
Qualifier Jennifer Brady upset error-prone two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-2 6-1, continuing a fruitful 2020 season which included another Top 10 win, over top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the opening round of the Brisbane International in January.
It was an awesome day for qualifiers in Dubai. Besides Brady, qualifier Veronika Kudermetova recovered from 2-5 in the third set to defeat Dayana Yastremska 5-7 6-3 7-6(2), Katerina Siniakova beat Karolina Muchova 6-4 4-6 6-0 in an all-Czech meeting, while Kristina Mladenovic was better than fellow qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 6-3.
Also in the first round, seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka knocked out Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-1.
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