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Rybakina comfortable as she restarts Dubai bid

Simona Halep denied Elena Rybakina glory at the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships, but she is back for more this season.

Elena Rybakina, the 2020 Dubai finalist Elena Rybakina, the 2020 Dubai finalist

Elena Rybakina, the 2020 finalist, eased through her Dubai Tennis Championships opener on a second day dominated by the seeds.

WTA Dubai: Draw | Order of Play | News

Rybakina was beaten in last season’s Dubai decider by Simona Halep, one of five WTA Tour finals she reached in a breakout year.

The Kazakh, with two career titles to her name, has not played a final since September, however, and entered this week’s tournament with a 4-4 record for 2021.

But her fine form in Dubai continued with a straightforward first match, beating Zheng Saisai 6-0 6-4 in 73 minutes.

“I lost a bit of concentration in the second set,” number 14 seed Rybakina said. “Also Saisai played well – she decided to risk stepping in on the returns – so overall I think it was not a bad match.”

Garbiñe Muguruza also built on a final defeat, having come up short in Saturday’s Qatar Open decider, thrashed by Petra Kvitova.

Including that event, Muguruza has reached the showpiece match at two of the four tournaments she has entered prior to this latest campaign, which began with a 6-3 7-5 win over Irina-Camelia Begu.

Garbine Muguruza Dubai 2021

Fellow seeds Madison Keys, Marketa Vondrousova and Anett Kontaveit each also raced through in straight sets.

Petra Martic could not join them, however, going down 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic.

Meanwhile, Jessica Pegula continued her rich vein of form in a dominant 6-2 6-1 defeat of Yaroslava Shvedova.

The American reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the last four as a qualifier in Qatar, meaning she is now 11-2 since heading to Melbourne.

One-time French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko also triumphed, while former Roland Garros semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova, still just 19, made a victorious 2021 WTA bow.

But three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber continues to struggle for momentum, letting a set lead slip to lose to Caroline Garcia.

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