Dubai Open: Defending champion Belinda Bencic, past titlist Svitolina lose openers



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Dubai Open: Defending champion Belinda Bencic, past titlist Svitolina lose openers

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset fourth seed and defending titlist Belinda Bencic in the opening round on Tuesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Pavlyuchenkova won 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 in one-and-a-half hours. The Swiss player won 19 straight points to start the match, coming closer to completing the golden set – winning all 24 points in a set – but the Russian fought back to thwart it.

Although Bencic went on to win the set, the second and third sets were completely dominated by the 28-year-old who seemed revitalised after the opening set loss. After the match, Pavlyuchenkova said, “I just kept on fighting, still trying to hit every ball, trying to be there.

Mentally I was quite positive, just playing point by point - even though it was 5-0 [and] I thought, Oh my God, it's embarrassing, so bad. I think it helped me going into the second set because I took that mentality, that mindset of being positive and fighting, trying to do my thing.

I was like, ‘You know what, [it] doesn't matter what the score is, just play.’ Slowly just started to turn around, I started to find my game”. In the third set, Bencic made a brief comeback reclaiming one service break to put herself on the board at 1-3.

But a break right back on her serve widened the gap further before a final service break in the seventh game of the set ended any remnants of hope about her making a comeback in the match. This was Pavlyuchenkova’s 15th win over a top-five opponent and the second win for 2020.

Earlier, on the day, third seed and two-time former champion Elina Svitolina, too, was ousted in her opening-round match. American qualifier Jennifer Brady needed just an hour to complete a 6-2, 6-1 win over the Ukrainian.

This is Brady’s only second win over an opponent ranked in the WTA top-10. Her first, too, came this year at the Brisbane International against Ashleigh Barty. Speaking about her win, Brady said, “Obviously respecting my opponent, but not to the point where I put the opponent on a pedestal, have to think that I have to play my best tennis in order to win.

I was just focused on my game plan, myself”. Brady will play Marketa Vondrousova in the round-of-16. The Czech defeated Anastasija Sevastova on Monday, in their first-round clash. Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova will face either qualifier Sorana Cirstea or Anett Kontaveit in the second round. Photo Credit: WTA Twitter