Rybakina comfortable as she restarts Dubai bid


Elena Rybakina, the 2020 finalist, eased through her Dubai Tennis Championships opener on a second day dominated by the seeds. . . Rybakina was beaten in last seasons Dubai decider by Simona Halep, one of five WTA Tour finals she reached in a breakout year. . . The Kazakh, with two career titles to her name, has not played a final since September, however, and entered this weeks tournament with a 4-4 record for 2021. . . But her fine form in Dubai continued with a straightforward first match, beating Zheng Saisai 6-0 6-4 in 73 minutes. . . I lost a bit of concentration in the second set, number 14 seed Rybakina said. Also Saisai played well – she decided to risk stepping in on the returns – so overall I think it was not a bad match. . Garbine Muguruza also built on a final defeat, having come up short in Saturdays Qatar Open decider, thrashed by Petra Kvitova. . . Including that event, Muguruza has reached the showpiece match at two of the four tournaments she has entered prior to this latest campaign, which began with a 6-3 7-5 win over Irina-Camelia Begu. . . Fellow seeds Madison Keys, Marketa Vondrousova and Anett Kontaveit each also raced through in straight sets. . . Petra Martic could not join them, however, going down 7-6 7-2 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic. . . Meanwhile, Jessica Pegula continued her rich vein of form in a dominant 6-2 6-1 defeat of Yaroslava Shvedova. . . The American reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the last four as a qualifier in Qatar, meaning she is now 11-2 since heading to Melbourne. . . One-time French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko also triumphed, while former Roland Garros semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova, still just 19, made a victorious 2021 WTA bow. . . But three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber continues to struggle for momentum, letting a set lead slip to lose to Caroline Garcia.

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