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Tennis: ‘Eyes wide open’ as Venus makes winning return to Dubai

Venus Williams in action during her 6-3 6-2 defeat of Elena Vesnina in the first round of the 
US$2 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Photo: AFP.

Venus Williams in action during her 6-3 6-2 defeat of Elena Vesnina in the first round of the 
US$2 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Photo: AFP.

February 18, 2014: Venus Williams made a triumphant return to one of her most beloved events on Monday night, defeating Elena Vesnina 6-3 6-2 in the first round of the 
US$2 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in the UAE.


It could have been a tricky first round for Williams, as Vesnina had won their only two previous meetings, including a devastating first-round loss at Wimbledon two years ago. However, the 33-year-old Williams was all over the Russian this time, blasting 10 aces and breaking serve four times with sister Serena looking on.


“The last couple matches I played against her, at Wimbledon she played so well and it wasn’t my day, and ‘Cincy’ as well. I had some chances there, but she was clearly more on her game,” Williams said. “These days I’m a little more on mine, so I was glad to get a win.”


The former World No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam winner said she was determined to compete more as she bids to recapture some of her former glory.


“I have to just keep playing and getting matches. There’s no other way to it, really,” she said. “In moments where I’m controlling the match, the better I’ll feel. I feel like I’ve gotten a little rusty sometimes in those areas.”


Williams also opened up about her return to  Dubai, a WTA Premier event, which follows last week’s Qatar Total Open in nearby Doha.


“I’m just excited to be here. It’s been a long time and I just couldn’t come, basically. So just to have a chance to come here is exciting for me,” she said. “I feel like out of all the people in the draw, I’m the one that has my eyes widest open. Maybe there are a couple other players, like Kleybanova, who maybe have a similar perspective.”


Williams conquered Dubai in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, but had to miss the last three years due to illness and injury. But after her win over Vesnina she has now won 11 matches in a row here, and 22 of 23 sets in that stretch, dropping just one set to sister Serena in the 2009 semi-finals.


Carla Suárez Navarro, Ekaterina Makarova, Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova were other first-round winners on Monday. Safarova won 10 points in a row at the end to finish off Sloane Stephens in a tight two-setter, 6-3 7-5.


Stephens said: “It was a tough match. She’s a great player and she played really well. I didn’t really get a good rhythm and she was playing some really good tennis at the end of the match.”


Annika Beck, Flavia Pennetta, Karolina Pliskova and Maryna Zanevska secured spots in the main draw with wins in the final round of qualifying. Beck, who turned 20 on Sunday, couldn’t have had a better 20th birthday present as she beat World No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard 6-1 6-4 for her first Top 20 win.


Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: Results – Monday, February 17, 2014


Singles – First Round

Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (WC) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 63 62

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 64 67(3) 64

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 64 63

Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Sloane Stephens (USA) 63 75

Venus Williams (USA) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 63 62


Doubles – First Round

Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 63 76(4)

Groenefeld/Rosolska (GER/POL) d. Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) 64 63

Raymond/Zhang (USA/CHN) d. (WC) Flipkens/Kvitova (BEL/CZE) 06 64 107 (Match TB)


Singles Qualifying – Final Round

Annika Beck (GER) d. (1) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 61 64

(3) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (5) Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 61 63

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 75 62

Maryna Zanevska (UKR) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 76(8) 64


Order Of Play – Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)

1. Alizé Cornet vs. Simona Halep

2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sabine Lisicki

3. Angelique Kerber vs. Ana Ivanovic (NB 19.00hrs)

4. Serena Williams vs. Ekaterina Makarova


Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)

1. Maryna Zanevska vs. Jelena Jankovic

2. Samantha Stosur vs. Annika Beck

3. Kaia Kanepi vs. Flavia Pennetta

4. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Karolina Pliskova


Court 3 (from 14.00hrs)

1. Hlavackova/Safarova vs. Black/Mirza

2. Errani/Vinci vs. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova (NB 16.00hrs)

3. Jankovic/Kleybanova vs. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova


Source: WTA

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