Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge shakes up seedings


Dubai: Top seed Cagla Buyukakcay joined a growing list of seeded players to be knocked out when the defending champion went down in straight sets to comeback kid Ksenia Pervak on the second day of the 19th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge on Tuesday.

Second seed Kristina Kucova and eighth seed Cindy Burger had become the first two casualties on at the end of the opening day on Monday. And when play resumed on Tuesday, Buyukakcay was the first to bow out going down 0-6, 6-7 (1) to Pervak — playing her first-ever competitive match since retiring from tennis in November last year.

Winner of one singles title on the WTA Tour, Pervak reached a career high No. 37 in September 2011. One of her career highlights was when she defeated Laura Robson to win the 2009 Australian Open juniors.

However, a string of injuries forced the Russian player to quit tennis in November 2015. Pervak followed this up with a knee surgery the same month, along with a second surgery in July this year, after which she started slowly training for the year ahead.

So making her comeback with a win, and that too against the defending champion and top seed, was something special for the 25-year-old. “I am very happy with the outcome of this match because I have not played for a long time. It was really tough as she was the first seed and she is also a tough opponent,” Pervak said.

“It’s a big step for me. I started my pre-season pretty early, about one month ago and I have been working pretty hard. I have a level, and I know that if I can manage the fitness then I can win,” she added.

Pervak next comes up against good friend Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, who had won in straight sets against Sweden’s Susanne Celik on Monday. “I don’t know how it go. I will take it step by step. Tomorrow is a very hard match and Krunic is someone who can mix the game very well. But this win today is a very important one for me,” Pervak said.

No. 4 Mandy Minella, the fourth seed, was next to bow out when she went down 1-6, 5-7 to Nigina Abduraimova of Uzbekistan, while sixth seed Rebecca Sramkova was shown the door with a 0-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 win by Slovenia’s Tadeja Majeric later in the afternoon.

The good news, however, came from the qualifiers as at least two of the four continued their march in the main draw. Top seed Quirine Lemoine took just 43 minutes to dispatch the Gulf’s top player Fatma Al Nabhani 6-0, 6-0 to set a second round meeting with fifth seed, Hsieh Su-Wie of South Korea.

Dutchwoman Lesley Kerkhove was the other qualifier to advance with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Viktoria Kamenskaya of Russia, while former US Open junior champion Dalma Galfi of Hungary defeated seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.


Court 1 (Start at 10 am)

Sabina Sharipova def. Jana Fett 7-5, 6-3; Quirine Lemoine def. Fatma Al Nabhani 6-0, 6-0; Ivana Jorovic def. Anastasiya Vasylyeva 6-4, 6-1; Lesley Kerkhove def. Viktoria Kamenskaya 7-5, 6-2; Su-Wei Hsieh def. Viktoriya Tomova 6-3, 6-3; Ksenia Pervak def. Cagla Buyukakcay 6-0, 7-6 (1); Nigina Abduraimova def. Mandy Minella 6-1, 7-5; Tadeja Majeric def. Rebecca Sramkova 0-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5; Nina Stojanovic def. Elitsa Kostova 6-4, 6-3; Mona Barthel def. Evgeniya Rodina 7=6 (3), 6-4; Dalma Galfi def. Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

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