Li Survives, Favorites Flourish
Published February 16, 2010 12:00
DUBAI, UAE - She had never played as the top seed in an event this big, but she certainly didn't disappoint in her first such venture. World No.3 Caroline Wozniacki bested Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets in her opening match of the $2,000,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.
Wozniacki, who had earlier-than-expected exits in her two Australian events, made a strong start in her third event of the year with a 62 76(2) win over Cibulkova, showing grit in the second set: she was down 5-1 and set point, rallying to close it out in two. Highlights: Wozniacki vs. Cibulkova
"In the second set I just kept fighting. Even though I was down 5-1, I fought for every point and it paid off in the end," Wozniacki said. "I started to play more relaxed. I started playing more aggressively and hit deeper because that's how I would have had to play in case I went to a third - but I didn't have to in the end."
Wozniacki's fellow Top 4 seeds, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka, all advanced as well, though in much different ways. Kuznetsova received a walkover from Anabel Medina Garrigues, who had a low back injury; Azarenka won when her opponent, Kateryna Bondarenko, retired during the first set with a left knee sprain and at night, Williams, the No.3 seed and defending champion, handily beat Sabine Lisicki, 62 63. Lisicki had won their only previous meeting, in the early rounds of Charleston last year.
"I'm not willing to hang onto anything. I'm all about getting the new thing. So I don't have that mentality, 'Oh my God, I have to defend my title.' Fortunately I never thought like that," Williams said. "That takes a lot of pressure off me. I'm just here to get another title." Highlights: V.Williams vs. Lisicki
Other winners were No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic, No.8 seed Li Na, No.10 seed Flavia Pennetta, No.11 seed Marion Bartoli, No.12 seed Vera Zvonareva and unseeded players Shahar Peer, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Olga Govortsova, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Regina Kulikova.
Li, coming off her first Grand Slam semifinal finish in Australia and in her first match as China's first Top 10 player, had one of the toughest wins of the day, battling María José Martínez Sánchez for almost two and a half hours before finally prevailing, 76(7) 26 64. Highlights: Li vs. Martínez Sánchez
Jankovic, trying to rebound from a third round loss at the Australian Open, rallied from 3-1 down in the third set to beat talented French rising star Aravane Rezai, 46 64 75. Highlights: Jankovic vs. Rezai