No.8 seed Caroline Wozniacki recovered from losing seven straight games to defeat Sabine Lisicki at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.
WTA Staff

DUBAI, UAE - Caroline Wozniacki weathered an early storm to defeat Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

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The opening month and a half of 2014 have brought just a handful of wins for Wozniacki, and 45 minutes into her encounter with Lisicki another early exit looked on the cards.

Already trailing by a set, the Dane, who was champion in Dubai three years ago, looked in danger of being blown away when she slipped 0-40 down in her opening service game of the second. But, just as she has on so many occasions in the past, Wozniacki produced her most resilient tennis with her back against the wall, and began turning the match back in her favor with a morale-boosting hold.

Buoyed by this mini-triumph, Wozniacki started to visibly grow in confidence. Now attacking with real purpose, she was soon making inroads on the Lisicki serve. A break in the fifth game saw her get her nose in front for the first time before wrapping up the set a few games later when the German ballooned a backhand wide.

She continued to press home her advantage at the start of the decider, carving out a couple of opportunities before finally breaking through in the fourth game as Lisicki wilted in the face of a relentless assault of pin-point returns. This proved to be decisive as Wozniacki confidently served out for a 26 63 63 victory.

"I knew she was going to come out hot and just go for her shots, and I felt like I was just a step behind," Wozniacki said. "I couldn't really do what I wanted from my backhand side, and I was playing a little too short.

"In the second set I started serving really well, I was really pleased with my serves, and I got a lot of her returns back deep, and all of a sudden, you know, the game was different. I started attacking more from my backhand side onto her backhand and started to make her run a little bit."

Next, she will face Annika Beck, who, like Wozniacki, overcame a difficult start, fighting back to defeat Samantha Stosur, 16 61 64.

Stosur was not the only surprise exit of the day. In the opening match on Centre, Doha champion Simona Halep's challenge came to a premature end when an Achilles problem forced her to retire whilst trailing 61 11 in her match against Alizé Cornet.

Halep picked up the injury last week and, despite some running repairs from the on-court trainer, it was clearly inhibiting her movement.

"I think it is bad, but I stopped because I wanted to stay safe with my ankle and to recover fast, because in two weeks I have another tournament," Halep said.

"I was very tired during the match and I felt that I couldn't continue. She played well the first set, and it isn't easy to continue the match when you don't feel 100% - you cannot run, you cannot stop at the balls. It's not easy."