Patty Schnyder rolls back the years to earn place in Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge main draw

Two days short of her 38th birthday, Patty Schnyder has given herself an early gift by qualifying for the main draw of the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge.

Patty Schnyder, pictured in action during the WTA event in Gstaad in July, is into the main draw at Al Habtoor Challenge in Dubai. Peter Klainzer / EPA
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DUBAI // Two days short of her 38th birthday, Patty Schnyder, the former world No7 from Switzerland, has given herself an early gift by qualifying for the main draw of the $100,000 (Dh367,000) Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge.

Schnyder, who called time on her career after losing in the first round of the 2011 French Open before embarking on a comeback through the Futures and Challenger tours, defeated Agnes Bukta 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the third and final round of qualifying on Monday to book a first-round clash with Austrian Barbara Haas.

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“Let’s see how far I can go,” said Schnyder, who made a surprise comeback at a $25,000 tournament in Darmstadt, Germany, in July, 2015, and has now climbed to No 298.

“Of course, I know I will have to play a little better, but if the opponent is pushing you to a better level, maybe I can play even better.”

Over the past three days, Schnyder has grown in confidence and delivered glimpses of the game that helped her win 11 WTA titles and that made her one of the trickiest competitors on the tour.

In the first two rounds of qualifying she dropped a mere six games, dismissing Germany’s Vivian Heisen 6-3, 6-0 in the first round before cruising past Magdalena Frech 6-1, 6-2.

“Everything is OK,” said Schnyder, who made a main draw appearance on the WTA Tour in 2016, courtesy of a wild card from the organisers in Gstaad.

“There are some things I could do better, but it has been good so far.”

The two seeds in action on the opening day failed to survive their first round challengers.

Kristina Kucova, the second seed, was stunned 6-3, 6-2 by Galina Voskoboeva, and eighth seed Cindy Burger was knocked out by 16-year-old Russian wild card Olesya Pervushina 6-4, 7-6.

In the other two first round matches of the day, Russia’s Natalia Vikhlyantseva prevailed 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 over Briton Tara Moore, and Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic defeated Susanne Celik 6-2, 6-4.

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