Lesia Tsurenko was one of a number of players who had to come back from the brink on the first day of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships qualifying.
Alex Macpherson
February 17, 2018

DUBAI, UAE - No.2 seed Lesia Tsurenko led a number of dramatic comebacks to move into the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships qualifying, saving three match points to beat Duan Ying-Ying 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.

In a match during which both players struggled on serve, committing 10 double faults each, the Ukrainian had trailed by 5-7, 2-5 - but ultimately overcame her Chinese opponent in two hours and 31 minutes.

Meanwhile, Danka Kovinic had seemed even more down and out against Junri Namigata, trailing the 35-year-old Japanese player 4-6, 1-5 - but the Montenegrin World No.122 held firm to emerge a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 victor in two hours and 11 minutes. Kovinic has now won at least one match in each of the five qualifying competitions she has played in 2018 - but so far has made it to the main draw just once, in Shenzhen.

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The third eye-catching recovery of the day came courtesy of Bernarda Pera. The American, who upset Johanna Konta as a lucky loser at the Australian Open, added another notable scalp to her list of 2018 wins in No.7 seed Marketa Vondrousova.

In a seesaw encounter with a classic whiplash scoreline, the World No.113 lost the first eight games of the match to her 19-year-old opponent, including an opening set that lasted just 22 minutes - but thereafter won 12 of the final 13 games to emerge a 0-6, 6-3, 6-0 victor. Pera will next face 2012 Roland Garros runner-up Sara Errani, who dismissed Shuko Aoyama 6-1, 6-0.

Elsewhere, No.8 seed Maria Sakkari and wildcard Ons Jabeur snapped six- and seven-match losing streaks respectively to score their first wins of 2018, both from a set down.

Sakkari, who had opened the year with three consecutive three-set losses, overcame Taipei City semifinalist Wang Yafan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; while Jabeur, who had lost 14 out of her last 15 sets stretching back to Beijing last September, looked in trouble again facing World No.520 Fatma Al Nabhani, but fought through to earn a place in the credit column 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2. 

The Tunisian's reward is a second-round meeting with Tsurenko, while Sakkari will take on Hsieh Su-Wei, who defeated Kristina Kucova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

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Life was simpler for No.4 seed Wang Qiang, who made smooth progress past Valentyna Ivakhnenko 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes, and No.9 seed Camila Giorgi, who fired four aces en route to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Nao Hibino.

Wang and Giorgi are on course to meet in the final qualifying round, but the Chinese player first faces Kovinic while the Italian has the hurdle of Sofya Zhuk to overcome. The 2015 Wimbledon girls' champion scored a fine 7-6(2), 7-6(7) win over former World No.26 Alexandra Dulgheru, saving two set points in the second set.

In the final match of the day, No.3 seed Samantha Stosur made a winning return to the preliminary rounds. Playing her first WTA qualifying match since October 2008, when she lost 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1) in the first round of Zürich qualifying to Pauline Parmentier, the Australian defeated Indian No.1 Ankita Raina 6-4, 6-4 to set up a second-round match against Christina McHale.