DUBAI, U.A.E. -- 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard joined No.1 seed Kaja Juvan and No.3 seed Greet Minnen as Day 2 winners at Australian Open qualifying on Monday, as the first round in Dubai came to a close.
With the field pared down from 128 to 64 over the last two days, all remaining players need to win two more matches to book their spots in the Australian Open main draw. The 16 eventual qualifiers from this week will travel to Australia and prepare for the year's first major at Melbourne in February.
Former World No.5 Bouchard of Canada eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Australian wildcard Abbie Myers. Bouchard broke her opponent six times during the 74-minute match, as she moves one step closer to the main draw.
Bouchard, seeded No.25 this week, is looking to return to the site of her first big major breakthrough. The Canadian reached her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open in 2014, which she followed up later that year with a second major semifinal at Roland Garros and her maiden major final at Wimbledon.
Unlike on Sunday, the two Top 4 seeds who played on Monday claimed wins without too much trouble. Top seed Juvan of Slovenia claimed a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory over another Australian wildcard, Storm Sanders. Juvan fired eight aces and won 82 percent of her first-service points en route to the 83-minute triumph.
20-year-old Juvan hopes to continue her burgeoning Grand Slam successes: she pushed Serena Williams to three sets in the second round of Wimbledon in 2019, and reached the same stage at Roland Garros and the US Open last season.
Third seed Minnen of Belgium had an even shorter affair against another Australian wildcard, defeating Alexandra Bozovic, 6-3, 6-4, in an hour and a quarter. Minnen, who made her Grand Slam main-draw debut at the Australian Open last season, is hoping for a return appearance as she edges closer to a Top 100 debut in the WTA singles rankings.
No.12 seed Caty McNally of the United States also grabbed a win in a battle of former junior stars. The two-time Grand Slam junior doubles champion dispatched Daria Snigur of Ukraine, the 2019 junior Wimbledon singles titlist, 6-3, 6-1.
"I’ve never been to Dubai before, but I’ve always dreamed of coming here -- not necessarily for Australian Open qualies!" McNally laughed, after her win. "Honestly, I’m just happy to be back, to be playing, and it just feels good after not playing for a couple months, because of the break, to be back doing what I love."
"[Snigur] is honestly a really tough opponent, you never know what you’re going to get with her," McNally continued. "She hit some really great shots, so I think me mixing up my game style was really helpful, and just being on it from the first point was really great. I’m proud of that."
No.16 seed Mayar Sherif of Egypt also notched a first-round win, easing past Akiko Omae of Japan, 6-0, 6-1, in just 50 minutes. The rising Egyptian made her Grand Slam main-draw debut at Roland Garros last season, and is aiming to reach a second consecutive major main draw this week.
"I think the thing that worked most for me today was to keep my nerves, to hold my attitude, and from then on my game just flowed," Sherif stated, after her victory.
"I’m very confident about my game and about myself, and I think I just go to the court and do my best, and that even gives me more confidence," added the Egyptian.
I broke the ice!!💪💪First win since september 2019 when i had to stop tennis due to my injury. I am happy to compete again after the dark period and tough moments I've been through for the last few months! I hope you will always support me either in good or worst of times pic.twitter.com/35DDX11Uqa— Mihaela Buzarnescu (@MikiBuzarnescu) January 11, 2021
A couple of formerly highly-ranked veterans, both of whom have struggled with injuries, had winning starts to their campaigns: Former Top 20 player Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania earned a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Lara Arruabarrena of Spain, while former Top 25 player Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine fought past Australia's Ivana Popovic, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Two of this week's top ten seeds, though, fell victim to upsets on Monday. No.5 seed Katarzyna Kawa of Poland lost to American Whitney Osuigwe, 6-4, 6-3, and No.8 seed Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland fell to Germany's Katharina Gerlach, 6-3, 6-4.
Additionally, some of the athletes who have previously taken part in the WTA Future Stars program also contested first-round qualifying matches on Monday. 18-year-old Australian wildcard Olivia Gadecki, who was at the WTA Future Stars Development Camp in Brisbane in 2020, gritted out a comeback win over Belgium's Lara Salden, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.
2014 WTA Future Stars champion Karman Thandi of India fell to Georgia's Mariam Bolkvadze in two extremely close sets, 7-6(4), 7-6(4). And Australia's Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz, who was in the Under-14 WTA Future Stars event at Singapore in 2018, lost to No.24 seed Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria, 6-4, 6-3.