Just one day after the end of WTA 500 tournament in Doha, the women's middle-east swing moved to Dubai, where the first WTA 1000 tournament of the season has started with 12 main draw matches played on Sunday afternoon.
Despite a couple of interesting match-ups delivered by the draw, Sunday's on-court action brought many one-sided matches, as 10 out of 12 matches ended up in straight sets, all of them lasting no longer than 80 minutes. Just two of those ended up with an upsets, as pre-match favorites were consistent in doing their job well today.
The first big upset happened in the match between Linda Fruhvirtova and Danielle Collins. The American, who suffered a severe loss against Iga Swiatek during last week in Doha was a favorite against talented 17 years-old Czech with an average odd 1.46. The difference between styles of both players gave hopes for the fans of "Danimal" for a break-through win, as the 2nd serve vulnerabilities of Fruhvirtova should be the fuel for the biggest weapons of aggressively playing Collins. That has not happened though, as the Australian Open 2022 finalist was really error prone and seemingly struggling with some issues that kept her from playing at the level, which she is known for. Fruhvirtova started the match on the front foot, gaining the early break, and showing some great defending skills enhanced with good movements and running during the rallies. After losing the opening set 3-6, Collins raised up her level a little bit, moving into a break lead in second set. The 8th game was the momentum switch, as "Danimal" did not manage to secure her serve despite being 40-15 up. Fruhvirtova leveled the score and won the following two games, using her first matchpoint during the American's serve. Collins ended up the match with as many as 46 unforced errors which was a crucial despite scoring 26 winners comparing to 13 produced by the Czech. Another upset of the day was served by Viktoriya Tomova, who defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-1.
An absolute highlight of today's action in Dubai was the match between Paula Badosa and Liudmila Samsonova. The match-up which looked quite exciting on paper has delivered the longest battle of the 2023 year in WTA competition so far, as the Russian endured Badosa after 3 hours and 24 minutes of intense battle, winning it 6-7 7-6 6-4.
The opening set did not bring any breaks, despite multiple breakpoint chances. Samsonova managed to save BPs, especially making a huge hold in 10th game, when Badosa produced 4 set-points in 5-deuces long game. The Spaniard who was more dangerous player throughout this set did not waste her chance in tie-break, winning it 7-3 after 77 minutes of battle. Second set was simmilary long, but brought two breaks, shared by both players in 7th and 8th game. This time, Samsonova was not giving so many chances for her opponent and forced a decider after winning the tie-break 7-5.
Third set started with breaks in first two games. Badosa had a breakpoint in 4th game, but Samsonova made another big hold. The Spaniard suffered a moment of weakness in 7th game, as she got broken to love, and Samsonova controlled the match since then, winning the last set 6-4. It was a hell of the match, after which the impartial fans could feel really sorry for Badosa, who produced 11 breakpoints comparing to 5 made by Samsonova and won two single points more in general (127-125). Hats off for the Russian though, as she was steadfast in getting out of trouble and more clinical in the key moments of this impressive match.
Marta Kostyuk prevailed in second three-setter of the day. The Ukrainian was a huge favorite in the match-up between wild card receivers with Ipek Oz. The player from Turkey made quite a surprise winning the opening set, but Kostyuk managed to raise up her game and win two following set, snatching the whole match with a score 4-6 6-2 6-2.