Reported by the WTA –
DOHA, Qatar – Monday was a good day for Caroline Wozniacki, not just because she inched past Marion Bartoli and back into the Top 10, but also because she won her first round match at the Premier-level Qatar Total Open – and comprehensively, needing exactly an hour to beat Mervana Jugic-Salkic.
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Wozniacki, ranked and seeded No.10 this week, dropped serve in the first game of the match but reeled off 10 games in a row from there to build a 61 40 lead, trading holds with Jugic-Salkic in the last four games until she emerged with a 61 62 win against the lucky loser from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“As I’ve said before, it’s tough to play your first match at any tournament and tough to play an opponent you haven’t played before, but I just tried to focus on my game,” Wozniacki said after the match. “I felt like I served well and returned well during the match, so I was happy with how things went today.”
This is Wozniacki’s 186th career week in the Top 10, but the former World No.1 has a different focus than her ranking. “I believe if I play well, the ranking will be there automatically,” Wozniacki commented. “The most important thing is I feel I’m hitting the ball well right now. I can do what I want to do out there on the court and have a purpose every time I step out there. It’s a good feeling to have.”
Fittingly, the other former No.1 in action on Monday – Ana Ivanovic – advanced by a 61 62 scoreline as well, against Tamira Paszek. But the big-hitting Serb needed an hour and six minutes to do it.
“I actually expected a very tough match with Tamira – it was a very tough first round, because we’ve had some battles in the past,” Ivanovic said. “But I started really well and was aggressive, and I just tried to do the things I’ve been working on. I did that well today. I felt like I was doing a lot of damage with my forehand, so I just tried to keep that game plan, and it all worked very well for me today.”
Like Wozniacki, Ivanovic – who is ranked and seeded No.13 this week – has her goals for this year.
“It’s a new season. I worked really hard in the off-season and want to put it together this year,” Ivanovic said afterwards. “Last year I felt I was in a position a lot of times to go deep into tournaments, but I never broke through – I really want to do that this year. I understand I have to work hard. It’s one thing to say I want to get back there and to get back there, but I really want to do it, and do it time after time.
“I definitely feel my game is coming to the point where I can challenge these top players. That’s exciting, because if it wasn’t like that, I wouldn’t be here. This is my big goal this year.”
Other winners during the day were Mona Barthel, Simona Halep, qualifiers Anastasia Rodionova and Caroline Garcia and lucky loser Daria Gavrilova. At night, Svetlana Kuznetsova won a tight one with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, rallying from 4-2 down in both sets to beat the American qualifier, 76(1) 64.
Barthel’s win was her 13th of the year, putting her in a tie for second place alongside Agnieszka Radwanska for most wins so far this year. Li Na leads the category with 14 wins on the year.