Garbine Muguruza calls on 'fighting spirit' to reach second round at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Spaniard beats Begu just 48 hours after heavy defeat in Qatar Open final

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Enduring quick turnarounds is all part and parcel of being a professional tennis player and anything resembling a busy schedule is surely appreciated by most on the WTA Tour given all that has happened over the past 12 months.

Still, it is never easy to swiftly regroup and refocus, physically and mentally, on a new tournament just days after the conclusion of another, particularly after expending so much energy to reach a final only to get thrashed.

That was the scenario facing Garbine Muguruza when she started her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships campaign 48 hours after a heavy defeat in the Qatar Open final.

Fresh from picking up just three games against Petra Kvitova in Doha on Saturday, the Spanish world No 16 was back in action to begin her seventh appearance in Dubai on Monday.

Any lingering disappointments from that final – her second title match of the season already – were thoroughly cast aside as Muguruza collected a 6-3, 7-5 win over Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu.

A straight sets win it may have been, but it was far from straightforward, especially in the second set when Begu served at 5-3. Muguruza, though, conjured her "fighting spirit" to avoid a third set decider and put her foot on the gas to win the next four games, clinching the victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

"I only arrived yesterday [Sunday], so it was just a sort of fighting spirit situation," Muguruza, 27, said. "The conditions and circumstances are very different to Doha, so I'm trying to adapt as quick as I can and bring my best to the court.

"I'm very happy, because I could easily not feel good and just let it go, so I'm happy I stayed very strong and closed it out in two sets."

Muguruza will next face Amanda Anisimova for the first time after the American teenager dominated Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh 6-2, 6-2 in her first WTA Tour-level match of the season.

"I know Muguruza's game pretty well, so it will be exciting to play against her," Anisimova, 19, said. "I have confidence behind me, I feel good and healthy, so I'm ready for the next match."

If Muguruza thought she had to dig deep to win, that was nothing compared to Caroline Garcia's effort in the previous match on Centre Court.

The French world No 47 produced a superb comeback to eliminate Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 having trailed 1-4 in the final set.

Despite being a match packed with errors, it was a thoroughly entertaining encounter and Garcia's better aggression was ultimately rewarded as she won five straight games in the decider to claim the win.

The former world No 4 will face in the second round lucky loser Martina Trevisan, who replaced Victoria Azarenka in the main draw after the Belarusian withdrew with injury.

The two matches that preceded Garcia's battling victory were far more one-sided affairs. Elena Rybakina, who reached last year's final, looks in the mood to emulate her 2020 showing after outclassing Saisai Zheng 6-0, 6-4.

Rybakina, seeded 14th, was too powerful for her Chinese opponent as her big serve and heavy groundstrokes allowed her to dominate the first set.

To Zheng's credit, she fought hard to stay with Rybakina and even after falling behind 1-3 in the second set, managed to earn a break before holding serve to level at 3-3.

After both players held for 4-4, Rybakina increased her aggression with Zheng serving to stay in the match and the 21-year-old Kazakh got the all-important break, and with it the match, when Zheng sent a shot long.

Despite the minor wobble, Rybakina delivered a largely comfortable victory without ever really moving out of second gear and she motored into the next round where she will take on Tunisian world No 31 Ons Jabeur.

"I lost a bit of concentration in the second set," Rybakina said. "Also Saisai, she played well. She decided to risk stepping in on the returns. So overall I think it was not a bad match."

Following Rybakina's largely comfortable 76-minute win, Anett Kontaveit was in an even bigger rush to reach the second round as the Estonian 15th seed took just 57 minutes to defeat Timea Babos 6-2, 6-1. Kontaveit plays Romania's Sorana Cirstea for a place in the third round.