DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb 20 – Two days afer playing the Doha final, Caroline Wozniacki plunged straight back to work on Monday at the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-2, 7-5 first-round defeat of Darya Kasatkina.
Former WTA world number one Wozniacki had only limited turnaround time to adjust to what many feel is a faster court in the emirate compared to last week’s venue.
“Unfortunately I didn’t have a bye which I would have loved right now. Anyway, I’m through to the next round. I’m not gonna complain. It’s all right. I’m just gonna grind it out,” the Dane said.
“It could have had an easier first round, I was really pleased with how I was able to just stay focused out there from the beginning. It’s much different conditions here. The ball is flying. The court is faster than in Doha.
“I didn’t really know how I was going to play to start off with. Generally, I was pleased with my game.”
Olympic champion Monica Puig ignored back pain to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the second round.
The Puerto Rican, a Doha semi-finalist who lost to Wozniacki last week, was stretched out on court for treatment but managed to find her reserves to advance past the Kazakh.
“There was just some soreness,” world number 42 Puig said.
“I need to get my body as recovered as possible but I’m feeling good after this win.”
Puig had lost three of four matches against Shvedova, winning their last in Toronto in 2015.
“It’s good to have a match that pushes you a little bit, so then you start getting into the rhythm.” she added.
“You really have to be on your toes in every point — I’m just happy that I got through today.”
Puig’s success marked her first Dubai win after a loss in the first round two years ago. She will next play France’s Caroline Garcia.
High-ranking seeds led by Angelique Kerber go into second-round action on Tuesday after byes at the Aviation club.
US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova is seeded second ahead of Slovak Dominika Cibulkova.
Teenaged American Catherine Bellis made a winning debut as the 17-year-old beat Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 7-5.
The match was the first this season for Bellis, who suffered a strained hamstring as well as a muscle problem after a surprise run to the US Open third round.
China’s Peng Shuai outed Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine 6-1, 6-1 while Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-3.
Alison Riske took advantage of 11 double-faults, breaking Australian Open semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe five times to post a 6-4, 6-4 victory.