DUBAI, UAE -- Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic made a scintillating main-draw debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, zipping past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3, 6-2 in their opening-round encounter.
"I know [Sevastova is] a good player, we played once," Vondrousova said in her on-court interview after her victory. "I expected a tough match. It was a late match also, so I had to stay calm. I’m just very happy with my win."
World No.17 Vondrousova had ousted Sevastova 6-2, 6-0, during her breakthrough run to the 2019 Roland Garros final, and their second encounter also went the way of the Czech in straight sets, this time being completed after an hour and nine minutes of play.
The Czech lefty had 25 winners to World No.41 Sevastova's 16 during the affair. Vondrousova was also never broken in the clash, saving all five break points she faced. By contrast, the 20-year-old converted three of the four break points she held in the match.
It's another successful match-win in just the fourth event Vondrousova has played since having wrist surgery last year. "I didn’t play for like six months, and I started [again] in Australia, and I’m happy to play pain-free," said Vondrousova. "Thank God it doesn’t hurt and I can play tennis again. I’m just very happy with that."
"I was a bit sad when I heard I needed the surgery, but that’s life," Vondrousova added. "I just stayed calm and believed that I can play again."
Vondrousova used her combination of power and varied shot selection to open up a commanding 4-1 lead in the opening frame. Sevastova had chances to pull back on serve at 4-2, holding two break points, but the Czech was able to grit her way to a service hold, putting herself a game away from the one-set lead.
Sevastova put together a love hold for 5-3, forcing Vondrousova to serve for the set. The Czech, to her credit, was more than up to the task, ending a rally with a dropshot winner to grab triple set point, then executing an outstanding drop volley to convert her first chance and notch the first set.
Vondrousova started the second set with an early break as well, pasting the sideline with a winner to claim Sevastova’s serve at 1-1. The Czech continued to outdo the equally wily Sevastova in the forecourt as she consolidated the break to go up 3-1.
Another break went Vondrousova’s way as she forced an error with a powerful return to take a 5-2 lead. The Czech would not be stopped from there, zipping to triple match point, then converting her first opportunity by slamming an ace, booking her spot in the second round in the process.
In the second round, Vondrousova will take on either two-time Dubai champion and No.3 seed Elina Svitolina or American qualifier Jennifer Brady.
"They are great players," said Vondrousova. "I will definitely watch them tomorrow and we’ll see. I can’t wait to play again here tomorrow."