Elina Svitolina’s nightmare start to year continues as Coco Gauff wins feisty match over Marketa Vondrousova

The world number five crashed out at the opening round in Dubai despite being the top seed

Sports Staff
Wednesday 10 March 2021 11:35
<p>Svitolina lost 2-6 6-4 6-1 to 35-year-old Kuznetsova</p>

Svitolina lost 2-6 6-4 6-1 to 35-year-old Kuznetsova

Elina Svitolina’s difficult start to the season continued as the top seed was beaten by veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in her opening match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Svitolina, ranked five, lost to an injured Victoria Azarenka in Doha last week and failed to take advantage of winning the first set as she fell 2-6 6-4 6-1 to 35-year-old Kuznetsova.

“I’m really disappointed with Doha and Dubai,” said Svitolina. “For sure it hurts but I have to analyse, I have to work on my fitness, I have to work on my game on the practice courts. There are still many tournaments this year and I have to move forward.”

Top seed Elina Svitolina crashed out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to Svetlana Kuznetsova

Second seed Karolina Pliskova has also struggled so far in 2021 but she remains in the tournament after a 6-3 6-7 (5) 6-2 victory over Anastasija Sevastova.

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4 but fifth seed Kiki Bertens, who is on the comeback trail following Achilles surgery, lost 6-1 6-4 to Tereza Martincova.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek continued her winning run following her title in Adelaide with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Misaki Doi, and there were also wins for Belinda Bencic and Elise Mertens, but seeds Madison Keys and Marketa Vondrousova were beaten.

The latter fell 3-6 6-0 6-4 to Coco Gauff in a feisty match. Tension stemmed from Gauff querying with the umpire whether Vondrousova was allowed to catch a ball toss with her racket and subsequently saw the American teenager appear to aim a drive volley at her opponent.

Gauff, who turns 17 on Saturday, said: “It wasn’t meant to make her upset, it was just meant to ask the question to the ref if that’s allowed and he said yes. I could tell she was a bit frustrated by that. My personality, I fight fire with fire.”

Coca Gauff, 16, also picked up a victory in Dubai despite losing the first set to Marketa Vondrousova

Doha champion Petra Kvitova’s stay at the tournament was short-lived as she pulled out with a thigh injury trailing 6-2 3-4 to Jil Teichmann but Garbine Muguruza, who Kvitova beat in the final on Saturday, defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-2.

At the Abierto Zapopan in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Czech Republic’s second seed Marie Bouzkova, fourth-seeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo and eighth seed Kaja Juvan, of Slovenia, all reached the second round.

There were also first-round wins for home favourite Renata Zarazua, Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Switzerland’s Leonie Kung.

But Russian third seed Anna Blinkova was beaten 6-3 7-5 by Slovenia’s world number 93 Tamara Zidansek.


Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments