By Sahan Bidappa/Doha
The seeds were hardly made to sweat as Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Julia Georges and Johanna Konta all won their matches convincingly at the Qatar Total Open yesterday.
The stand out victory of the day at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, though, came from Kvitova. The former World No.1 has had a busy couple of weeks, winning her 21st title at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy followed by two Fed Cup wins for Czech Republic in Prague over the weekend.
In fact, Kvitova arrived in Doha only on Monday night, but that hardly seemed to come in the way of two-time Wimbledon champion cruising to the second round.
If anything, she seemed to be in a rush to catch up on some sleep as she dispatched wildcard Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey 6-0, 6-3 in less than an hour. Kvitova is coming into the season after a horrific knife attack just over a year ago, where her left hand was injured badly.
Kvitova is currently ranked 21st and is seeded 16th in Doha, but she looks to be in fine form as the 27-year-old mounts a comeback to the top of the rankings. Yesterday’s victory was Kvitova’s eighth in a row as she pummelled 34 winners on the centre court.
Buyukakcay could only watch as Kvitova lost just four points out of a total 28 played in the first set that lasted just 19 minutes. Buyukakcay made a valiant comeback in the second set, twice exchanging breaks with Kvitova, but the Czech star proved too strong, converting six of her seven break-point opportunities and hitting four aces to close out the match in 56 minutes.
“I’ve gotten some sleep, just a little bit. I’m happy to be here; it was definitely a tough schedule for me, but getting an eighth win is something really nice for me. It’s been super, really long since I’ve had such a good run. I’m just trying to continue with that,” said Kvitova, who next faces former World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
On her five-month forced injury hiatus in 2017, Kvitova said: “It was my biggest motivation to be back playing on the tennis court, competing against the best players. The dream came true, so I’m happy to be in the draw again.”
Fourth seed Muguruza too seemed to be taking Kvitova’s route until she was stretched by Duan Ying-Ying of China in the closing stages of the match.
Duan saved eight match points but Muguruza was still too strong for the Chinese as she cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 second-round victory. Muguruza was playing her first event since a surprise second round loss to Hsieh Su-Wei at the Australian Open.
“It’s been a while since I am not competing, and I played her actually recently in the US Open, and we had a tough match, and today was quite similar, especially at the end,” Muguruza said. “It was very interesting. She was playing better, and took me a lot of match points, but it was just an exciting end,” she added.
No.10 seed Konta of Britain let out a huge roar on Court No.1 after she knocked out American qualifier Bernarda Pera 7-6 (5), 6-1 in her first round match. Konta had suffered a shock defeat to World No.113 Pera at the Australian Open second round last month and the Brit enjoyed avenging that loss yesterday.
“I’m very happy to have come through that,” she said. “I knew going into the match that it was going to be tough, and it was actually similar conditions as it was in Melbourne, although it’s a lot windier today than it was in Melbourne. It makes it quite tricky to play against her, so I’m very happy to have fought through that and dealt with the quick turnaround coming here from Fed Cup as well. That was a good challenge for me, and I’m just excited that I get to play again tomorrow,” added Konta, who will take on Carla Suarez Navarro today.
The 2016 champion Suarez Navarro came back from a set down to beat Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Meanwhile, ninth seed Julia Goerges played a near-flawless first set to storm past Lucie Safarova winning 6-1, 7-5 in just 66 minutes.
In other results, 11th seed Madison Keys of the US defeated Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-4 of China, while 13th seed Anastasija Sevastova recorded a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Donna Vekic.
Romanian Fed Cup teammates Irina-Camelia Begu and Sorana Cirstea had mixed fortunes, with Begu falling to Samantha Stosur, 6-4, 6-2 and Cirstea defeating Maria Sakkari, 6-2, 6-3.
Fourteenth seed Magdalena Rybarikova saw off Omani wildcard Fatma al-Nabhani, 6-3, 6-1, and Carina Witthoeft won the all-German clash with Tatjana Maria, 6-3, 6-0. Alize Cornet defeated Anett Kontaveit, 6-2, 6-1, while qualifier Marketa Vondrousova posted a 6-3, 6-1 win over Yulia Putintseva.
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