Daria Kasatkina was the first main draw winner on the WTA Tour in 2021. In her first-round match in the Abu Dhabi Open on Wednesday, the Russian beat China’s Qiang Wang 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. Kasatkina came from a break down in the deciding set and won the final six games to make it to the round-of-32 in the event.
After the match, Kasatkina said, “The first match after a long stop is never easy. I was not that nervous but I felt my stomach a little bit. The match was tough, three sets”. She also added, “It’s always difficult to come back after the pre-season because you can play very good in practices and beat everyone in practice matches, but then you come to a tournament and it’s a completely different feeling.
You have nerves. Everything is different. It’s not easy to manage these things at the beginning of the season”. Kasatkina, who now holds a 5-0 win-to-loss record against Wang, awaits the winner of the match between 12th seed Karolina Muchova and Danka Kovinic in the second round.
Tunisian Ons Jabeur defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the second round. The 15th seed saved two set points in the first set but eventually prevailed over the Russian in straight sets 7-6(3), 6-3. This was the second meeting between the duo with Jabeur now having won both matches.
Speaking about her performance in her post-match press conference, Jabeur said, “To be honest, it was a good one for me. It was a tough match, not an easy first round or first match, but I went there with the spirit like I’m not afraid, I’m just going to go in and give it all”.
In the next round, Jabeur will play either qualifier, Kateryna Bondarenko or Yafan Wang.
Abu Dhabi Open: Donna Vekic’s so-close-yet-so-far moment
Anett Kontaveit and Donna Vekic were the seeds who were upset in the opening rounds.
The 10th-seeded Estonian lost to Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 6-1 while the 16th-seeded Croatian was ousted by Bernarda Pera. The American made a comeback in the final set coming from a break down to win 7-6(12), 2-6, 6-4. Kudermetova will face either qualifier Bianca Turati or Yaroslava Shvedova in the second round.
Pera will meet either Sara Sorribes Tormo or Nadia Podoroska in the round-of-32. Ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari and 13th seed Yulia Putinseva won their respective openers. The Greek beat Anastasia Potapova 6-4, 6-2 while the Kazakh player won against Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-3.
In the next round, Sakkari will play either Norwegian alternate Ulrikke Eikeri or Coco Gauff. Putinseva will face Barbora Krejcikova in the second round. Krejcikova defeated Jamie Loeb of the United States in their opener. The Czech won in straight sets 6-1, 6-3.
Meanwhile, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Lin Zhu of China in their opening-round clash. The Australian won in straight sets 6-2, 7-6(1). She will play either fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka or Polona Hercog in the second round. Spain’s Paula Badosa defeated Anastasija Sevastova in the first round.
Badosa won 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Badosa will play either seventh seed Elise Mertens or Alize Cornet in the second round. Kirsten Flipkens also moved into the round-of-32 in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The Belgian came from a set down to beat German Laura Siegemund 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.
In the second round, Flipkens awaits either top-seed Sofia Kenin or Chinese qualifier Zhaoxuan Yang. Leylah Fernandez also stormed into the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open. The Canadian southpaw beat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-2 in their round-of-64 clash.
Fernandez now awaits either Tamara Zidansek or 11th seed Jennifer Brady next. In the last match of the day, 17th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova defeated Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round. Alexandrova will play a Briton in either Heather Watson or lucky loser Jodie Burrage in the round-of-32. Photo Credit: WTA Insider Twitter