Stefania Bojica returns to Nina Danisova during their qualifying match at the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge.
Gulf Today, Sports Reporter
UAE-born Stefania Bojica led two British players into the second round of qualifying as the 26th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge got under way at the Habtoor Grand Hotel here, on Sunday.
The 18-year-old Bojica, whose entry on the big stage of women’s tennis came at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open earlier this year, eased past Slovakia’s Nina Danisova 6-2, 6-3 in 99 minutes to set a meeting against eighth seed Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand.
Born in the UAE, Bojica made history earlier this year after advancing as a wild card to the second round of qualifying with a straight-sets win against World No.63 Danka Kovinic. However, she fell in the next round 6-2, 6-1 against Katarina Zavatska.
Also advancing to the second round on the opening day was the British pair of Emily Appleton and Sarah Beth Grey, both through easy wins – Appleton taking just 45 minutes to ease her way past Eva Busaad of Bulgaria, while Grey needed only 37 minutes for a double bagel against India’s Jigyasa Narsinghani.
Appleton will meet fourth seed Nika Radisic, while Grey will take on top seed Kateryna Volodko in their next round of qualifying.
“I am really happy with the win today as this is one of my favourite tournaments. It’s my third time here, but now it is more serious for me as I am trying to push my way through,” Appleton said.
“I would love to take each match one by one, playing the way I want to play and see where that gets me. An entry into the main draw looks good as a goal for this week,” she added.
Grey too was pleased with the ways she has adapted in Dubai. “I think I played really well. I was making a lot of returns, and I felt pretty good on the ball. The surface is pretty fast here and that is what I like since it suits my style of play,” Grey said.
“It was good to have some volume and get used to conditions as I have been playing indoors in Europe in the past few weeks. Overall, it was a good match [against Narsinghani]. At the moment, I do not want to have any goals as I just do my best, and if it works out, then it’s great. The field here is strong and I do not want to have too many expectations,” she added.
Play will continue with the second round of qualifying starting at 10 am, on Monday.
Staring at defeat at 4-5 and 0-40 in the third set, former British No.1 Watson clawed back to push the set into a deciding tie-breaker that Hartono eventually went on to win and land into her first-ever career W100 final.
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