Jabeur, Mertens, Muguruza reach second round
February 24 2020 12:31 AM
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in action against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina (not pictured) in the Qatar Total Open at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil

By Sports Reporter/Doha

Tunisian wildcard Ons Jabeur ousted Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round of the Qatar Total Open at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday.
Reigning champion Elise Mertens also had it easy while 2018 runner-up Garbine Muguruza had to summon all her resolve to progress to the round of 32 of the Premier 5 tournament.
Belgian Mertens, the surprise winner last year, ousted China’s Qiang Wang 6-2, 6-1, but Spaniard Muguruza was taken the distance by Russian qualifier Daria Kasatkina before prevailing 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
Jabeur’s astonishing run at the Australian Open where she reached the quarter-finals had captivated the Arab world and raised expectations of her, and she made good use of her good first serve yesterday to stay on course for another good run.
“It was good to get the first match out of the way. It adds to your confidence,” said Jabeur who will next meet either Allison Riske or Jennifer Brady.
Meanwhile, Mertens, who became only the second unseeded player to win the Doha tournament last year – Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova achieved the feat in 2015 – recorded her second victory over Wang in as many weeks, having also won their first round clash in Dubai 6-3, 6-0.
“Well, like last week, I didn’t expect it to be a match like that and this week actually either. I think she didn’t really like the wind that much. I tried to adapt to the wind and you can’t always play full force when the wind is coming, it can change directions. So I think that’s what I managed better at this week and last week,” said Mertens.
She added that she doesn’t look at the draw, only bothering to find out who her next opponent is.
“A lot of great players in the tournament, so it’s important to take it match by match. I don’t look at the draw,” said the 16th-seeded Mertens who made the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Having won back-to-back titles in Hobart, she was asked if she was under pressure to repeat her Doha feat.
“I think it’s important to not focus on the win you had last year. Of course a good feeling you want to stay with. Yeah, of course, the points and the pressure, you really have to deal with that, but I think I’m doing it pretty good, pretty well.”
In sharp contrast, No.11 seed Muguruza took two hours and 49 minutes to beat qualifier Kasatkina 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, the fourth-longest match of the year so far.
Their three previous meetings all went to three sets, and twice featured escapes from match point down. In the second round of Brisbane 2017, Muguruza saved one before pulling out a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win, and the following year, in one of the most dramatic semifinals in Dubai’s history, it was Kasatkina’s turn to fend off three before triumphing 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-1.
“I was expecting a tough match. All the matches that we have played have been long and tough. So I was prepared for another type of match like that,” said Muguruza.
“ I feel like I had a lot of opportunities maybe to step it up earlier, in the first set, in the second set, but, yeah, I think I could have played better at certain moments but the end it’s a victory and I’m happy for it.”
Muguruza said she didn’t have any special approach to deal with a long match.
“There’s not a different approach, I really don’t care what the score it is, a victory is a victory and I’m not looking forward for tough matches. I’m not trying to be worried when it gets to a third set or something like that. I’ve been playing -- last year I played a lot of three-set matches, they didn’t go my way, and this year I’m back at it again and just going more for it and being a little bit more patient.
“It’s not nothing really different than I’m thinking or something, just putting the fight and this year it’s going my way.”
Having already played a tough three-setter, she is prepared for more as the event progresses.
“Yeah, it always is tough. When you have a tough match you just try to recover, prepare for your next battle. Every match is very different, also every opponent is different style, everything is new. But I’m happy that I get to prepare, that means that I’m going through, you know, no matter if it’s tough or not, I feel like I gave myself another chance.”
Among others advancing yesterday were two-time runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, America’s Bernarda Pera, German Laura Siegemund and Slovakian Polona Hercog.

 Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2, 6-2
 Q-Bernarda Pera (USA) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-3, 6-1
 11-Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Daria Kasakina (RUS) 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
 Q-Priscilla Hon (AUS) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2, 6-4
 Karolina Muchova (CZE) bt Magda Linette (POL) 6-3, 6-1
 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt WC-Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) 6-2, 6-2
 Q-Laura Siegemund bt Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-3, 6-2
 Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 7-6 (8-6), 0-6, 6-3
 16-Elise Mertens (BEL) bt Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-1, 6-2
 Amanda Anisimova (USA) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
 WC-Ons Jabeur (TUN) bt Q-Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-3, 6-2

 5-Yifan Xu (CHN) & Nicole Melichar (USA) bt Alex Guarachi (CHI) & Alicja Rosolska (POL) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
 Hayley Carter (USA) & Luisa Stefani (BRA) bt Makoto Nimomiya (JPN) & Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) 6-2, 3-6, 10-7
 Lyudmila Kichenok & Nadiia Kichenok (UKR) bt Kiki Bertens & Julia Georges (GER) 7-5, 1-6, 10-3
 7-Hao-Ching Chan & Latisha Chan (TPE) bt Shuko Aoyama & Ena Shibahara (JPN) 6-3, 6-3

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