Tunisian Jabeur nullifies Riske with Dubai opening win

Published: 08:59 PM, 17 Feb, 2020
Tunisian Jabeur nullifies Riske with Dubai opening win
Caption: Ons Jabeur of Tunisia returns the ball to Alison Riske of the US during the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. AFP
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Ons Jabeur beat Alison Riske 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3 on Monday at the Dubai Championships to earn a second-round date with top seed Simona Halep.

The Tunisian who trains in Dubai was encouraged by football-level support from flag-waving Tunisian fans.

"I'm so grateful for the crowd, they really gave me energy. It feels like home here," said Jabeur. "Alison is tough, she made me run everywhere, I was down in the second set but got it back in the third," added the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final last month at the Australian Open.

Jabeur lost the first eight points and missed a pair of set points in the 10th game before it went into a tie-breaker. She led 5-0 in the decider and took the set on her fourth opportunity. But the momentum shifted in the second set, with Riske taking a 5-0 lead before a Jabeur took a medical time out for blisters.

Barbora Strycova turned a corner after a poor start this season as she defeated US teenager Amanda Anisimova 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-4, winning only her second match of 2020.

The 18-year-old Anisimova managed 43 winners but was weighed down by 67 unforced errors in a struggle lasting just over two-and-a-half hours.

"It wasn't really a great match from both sides, the balls were flying everywhere, it was a struggle to keep them on the court," the 33-year-old Dubai-based Strycova said. "But I got through the match and I'm happy to be in the second round," the 2016 finalist said of a contest played in the heat of a desert day.

"I like to compete and have the feeling of winning matches," added the 2019 Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Strycova ended with 23 winners and 43 unforced errors and swept five of the last six games to advance. Belgian four-time Grand Slam winner Kim Clijsters was making a return to tennis later Monday after playing her last WTA match in 2012, with the 36-year-old taking on fellow former major champion Garbine Muguruza.

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