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Pennetta Toughs It Out, Kerber Keeps Winning

It was a tough day for seeded players as the first round wrapped up at the Qatar Total Open.

Published February 14, 2012 12:00

Pennetta Toughs It Out, Kerber Keeps Winning
Flavia Pennetta

DOHA, Qatar - Two days ago in far away lands, they were both crowned WTA champions... but on Tuesday, after travelling over 3000 miles, only one of them was able to keep the fairytale going, as Angelique Kerber won her first match of the Qatar Total Open but Daniela Hantuchova was defeated.

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Kerber, who won her first WTA title at another Premier event, the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris, was two games from losing her first match in Doha but came roaring back, winning nine of 10 games from 64 43 down to defeat No.9 seed and fellow German Sabine Lisicki in three sets on center court, 46 64 61.

"I know Sabine very well. She's a great player, and I'm very happy I won this match today," Kerber said. "It was not easy to prepare for this tournament and this match, but I was trying to focus on me and my game. I played a lot last week and am not feeling very good, but I was fighting and I'm still here."

Lisicki, who pulled ouf of Paris last week due to illness, was not happy with her play. "It was just an awful day today," she said. "I was sick last week but I was practicing and came here to play, but today I simply played badly. I think today alone I made as many unforced errors as the last 10 tournaments."

Still, Lisicki looked ahead for the rebound. "I had a similar phase like this last year, exactly one year ago, so I know you just have to be strong. Of course it's frustrating but this is just a little setback, it's not going to stop me. I have to continue to work hard and play better in the next match. That's all I can ask for."

Hantuchova, who won her fifth WTA title at the International-level stop in Pattaya City and was the No.15 seed here, was twice up a break in the third set, including serving for the match at 6-5, but saw her winning streak come to an end against tenacious Romanian player Simona Halep, 36 62 76(4).

"She's a top player and is playing very well lately, so it's a good victory for me," Halep said afterwards. "I played well and I really enjoyed the match."

Lisicki and Hantuchova weren't the only seeds to go down on Tuesday, with No.11 seed Dominika Cibulkova falling to Flavia Pennetta, 63 26 75 - it was the closest match of the day, Pennetta winning just two more points (91-89).

The only other seed in action, No.16 seed Julia Goerges, moved comfortably through with a 62 62 victory over steady Belarusian Anastasiya Yakimova.

Also among the winners as the first round ended were Maria Kirilenko, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Yanina Wickmayer, Lucie Safarova, Petra Cetkovska, Iveta BenesovaSorana Cirstea and Virginie Razzano.

Kirilenko, who reached her 10th WTA final in Pattaya last week before losing to Hantuchova, had a particularly meaningful win, rallying from a break down in the third set to beat Zheng Jie, 63 36 63 - in fact she won 16 of the last 17 points of the match after going down that break. The Russian had lost her last four meetings with Zheng, including in what was probably the biggest match of her career so far - the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals (Zheng won that, 61 63).

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