Garbine Muguruza begins Dubai title defence with battling win over Katerina Siniakova

Spanish fourth seed through to the second round, where she faces Russia's Kudermetova

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Garbine Muguruza got her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title defence up and running on Tuesday but the Spaniard was forced to work for the win by Katerina Siniakova.

Muguruza recovered from a second set dip to defeat the Czech qualifier 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes and will face Veronika Kudermetova for a place in the quarter-finals after the Russian beat former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-4.

"We always play very difficult matches and today I was ready for it," said Muguruza, who had beaten Siniakova twice in three previous meetings, with both wins going the distance. "I think the first set was key, it was such a tough set. Then in the second she started playing better so I'm happy to have won this match."

The Spanish fourth seed has endured a frustrating start to 2022 and arrived in Dubai with two wins and two defeats from her time in Australia, but she is not overanalysing her form at this stage of the year.

"Every year is very different. Sometimes you start amazing, others you don't," Muguruza, 28, said. "The season is so long so what's important is to keep going and eventually the good things will come."

The big shock of the day took place over on Court One, where Muguruza's compatriot Paula Badosa was eliminated by Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Badosa looked to have fought back from the brink when Ruse served for the match in the second set, but having taken a 4-1 lead in the decider, the third seed surrendered her advantage as world No 59 Ruse won five games in a row to register the biggest win of her career so far.

Ruse's reward for victory over Badosa is an all-Romanian showdown in the second round against two-time Dubai champion Simona Halep.

Updated: February 15, 2022, 6:15 PM
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