A tricky draw paired Kops-Jones and Spears against five-time Dubai champion Liezel Huber and Chan Hao-Ching and things did not get any easier when they slipped an early service break behind. However, this setback only seemed to galvanize the American duo, who responded by reeling off five of the next six games to take the set.
Kops-Jones and Spears were also forced to come from a break down in the second, before eventually closing out a 63 76(4) win.
"I think we did a good job of just sticking with the game plan, even when it was close, and I think that was our goal," Spears said. "We're pretty happy. I mean we made some mistakes, but we bounced back really well and I was pretty pleased with that and our attitude - we were pretty feisty out there, which was good!"
Since teaming up at the start of the year, Raymond and Zhang have posted several encouraging results, but they made a nightmare start in Dubai, losing the opening eight games against wildcards Kirsten Flipkens and Petra Kvitova.
A run of three straight games midway through the second set halted the slide, before Raymond and Zhang pinched the set by breaking the Kvitova serve at 5-4. They were forced to weather another storm in the tie-break, recovering from 5-2 down to close out a 06 64 107 win.
"I think they played a great first set, obviously, and we were down 8-0 pretty quickly," Raymond said. "I knew we could get things together and even in that first set there were a few games that could have gone either way.
"The fortunate thing about no-ad games is that the match can change on just one point and you're never out of the match. We just kept hanging in there, the tide turned and then we played a good tie-break."