DOHA, Qatar - The $2,168,400 Qatar Total Open kicked off in Doha on Monday, with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the first upset of the week but Peng Shuai, Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova making the second round.
The highest seed in action on Day 1 was No.10 seed Pavlyuchenkova, and she looked headed for an easy win as she took just 26 minutes to win a 6-1 first set against Ksenia Pervak; but Pervak fended off two break points in the first game of the second set and the momentum shifted from there, as she began winning some very close games - she toughed out a 54-minute second set and a 49-minute third set and eventually beat the hard-hitting Russian, 16 62 63.
No.12 seed Peng, No.13 seed Ivanovic and No.14 seed Kuznetsova all won in straight sets. Peng scored a 60 75 win over Omani wildcard Fatma Al Nabhani, winning the first set in 26 minutes but taking over an hour to win the second.
"In the first set I played very well, but in the second set I think I lost some of my concentration," Peng said. "My reactions got a bit slower - it's late night in China right now! She also played some amazing shots... I would hit wide to her forehand and she would come up with a winner down the line. I really didn't want it to go three sets, so even though it got close I was very happy to win.
"I played Fatma at the Asian Games in 2010 but I hadn't seen her play since then so I didn't really know what to expect. She played very well."
Other winners on Day 1 were Monica Niculescu, Mona Barthel, Shahar Peer, Christina McHale, Tsvetana Pironkova and qualifiers Kateryna Bondarenko, Anne Keothavong and Varvara Lepchenko. Peer, who became the first Israeli to compete at a WTA event in the Middle East right here four years ago, had the most dominant win of the day, beating Moroccan wildcard Nadia Lalami, 60 60 - she only faced one game point in the 42-minute rout. Peer will face No.8 seed Jelena Jankovic in the second round.
Barthel and Keothavong had double tie-break victories, Barthel coming from 4-1 down in the first set and 5-3 down in the second set to beat young French qualifier Caroline Garcia, 76(6) 76(4), and Keothavong beating Tamira Paszek in an all-qualifier battle, 76(4) 76(5), rallying from 4-2 down in the first set and 4-1 down in the second set tie-break. Barthel will next face No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka, while Keothavong has No.4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska next.