First-round action continued on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open and the tournament’s top seeds successfully handled the windy conditions to victoriously open the 2021 season. Let’s do a recap of the day and have a look at some of the photos that Jimmie48 took on the beautiful courts in the United Arab Emirates.
Six seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, last year’s Tour leader in finals (5), began the season with a confident 6-1 6-3 win over Italian world No.394 Lucrezia Stefanini. Meanwhile, on a different court, the 2020 French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska had a poor serving day and lost to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3 6-3.
Fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka finished the 2020 season with back-to-back titles in Ostrava and Linz and today in Abu Dhabi the Belarusian extended her winning streak to ten matches with a 7-6(5) 6-2 victory over Polona Hercog. The tenth-ranked Sabalenka overcame a slow start, rallying from 2-5 down and saving five set points to win the first set in a tiebreak.
As the WTA Insider reports on Twitter, Sabalenka said that her strong character traits helped her decide the match in her favor:
I didn’t have my serve and I didn’t have my forehand and backhand. But I had my character and I was just trying to use it as much as I can.
Eighth seed Marketa Vondrousova served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but unseeded Hsieh Su-Wei eventually triumphed 3-6 6-3 7-6(3).
Wearing Fila’s eye-catching tie-dye dress from the Top Spin collection, seed No.1 Sofia Kenin successfully started the season with a 7-6(4) 6-3 win over Chinese qualifier Yang Zhaoxuan. The American was nervous initially and the windy conditions made things even harder, but she found her groove in the second set.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza won six games in a row from 0-2 down in the first and recovered from a break down in the second set to overcome fellow Adidas representative Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-4.
Third seed Karolina Pliskova fought past lucky loser Despina Papamichail of Greece 6-2 7-6(4), who was making her WTA main-draw debut. Pliskova was first supposed to face Sorana Cirstea, but the Romanian withdrew due to an abdominal injury.
Heather Watson presented the lovely striped orange dress from the latest New Balance collection and got past fellow Brit Jodie Burrage 4-6 6-2 7-5.
Second seed Elina Svitolina defeated American Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-3 without dropping serve.
Jimmie48 also took some really nice photos of Daria Kasatkina and Anett Kontaveit, who were victorious in doubles today.
Second-round action begins on Friday at 10 a.m. local time.