Alize Cornet claimed a dramatic 6-0 6-7(6) 6-3 victory over Kirsten Flipkens on Sunday to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
It was an emotional roller-coaster for the 2014 finalist, who won the opening set with ease, came within two points of victory in the second set and then fought back from 3-0 down in the third.
“I was like, ‘Wow, how I’m going to turn around this match? It’s impossible. She was playing better than me’,” said Cornet after her three hour 11 minute victory. “I was tired. I was sweating. I was dead. Finally, I made it. Don’t know exactly how, but I think I just kept fighting on every point and it worked out.”
Flipkens received attention to her knee after the first set and became much more competitive, and as several close line calls went against Cornet she struggled to control her emotions before finally managing to re-focus.
“I proved myself that I could actually, you know, stay calm in the third set, which I didn’t do it in the beginning of the second set. I got really nervous,” she said. “I could come back from a really tough score, and could behave very good on the court and still win the match.”
Flavia Pennetta also came through a tough match, fighting off four match points to overcome a gallant challenge by former finalist Julia Goerges and win 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4.
Goerges led by a set and 5-2 and held match points at 5-3. But Pennetta used all of her vast experience to fight back and level the match at one set each, and then hold off a late challenge from Goerges to claim victory in a draining two hours 15 minutes.
Former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki set up an intriguing clash with fourth seed and former world number one Ana Ivanovic as she defeated Monica Niculescu 6-3 6-4, and Casey Dellacqua made the most of receiving a wild card into the tournament by defeating Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-4. Eighth seed Jelena Jankovic struggled before defeating qualifier Timea Babos 6-3 4-6 6-1.
“We have witnessed two very close and exciting matches on the very first day of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organizers. “Alize Cornet managed to survive what is one of the longest matches on the WTA Tour this year, and Flavia Pennetta was also required to play at her very best in order to reach the second round. Such drama bodes well for the rest of the week.”
With so many of the best players in the world taking part in the tournament, it is guaranteed that fans will be able to watch top names even on the outside courts.
“There can be no greater bargain for tennis fans anywhere in the world, with free admission to the outside courts at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak. “Even on the opening day spectators have been able to watch the 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in action, as well as one of the rising young stars of the game, Belinda Bencic. More of the biggest names in tennis will be appearing on those same courts in the days to come.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event continues until 21st February and features defending champion Venus Williams, Wimbledon champion and 2013 Dubai winner Petra Kvitova, French Open and WTA Finals runner-up Simona Halep, former Dubai winners Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki, Brisbane runner-up Ana Ivanovic, Australian Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova and recent Sydney semi-finalist Angelique Kerber.
Play then continues between 23rd and 28th February with the action-packed ATP tournament which stars world number one and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, defending Dubai champion Roger Federer, Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray and two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are still available for every day of the women’s week, and start at just 75dhs for the first three days of play, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tickets are also still available for the first three days of the men’s week.Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at http://www.timeouttickets.com/. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.