Doha: Day-1. Vika. Venus. Czechs don’t bounce.

With a stacked draw here in Doha, Day-1 of the Qatar Total Open 2015 saw plenty of competitive 3-set battles. Four moved into the main draw after winning their Final round qualifying matches, and a pair of Americans won the first doubles match of the tournament.

Victoria Azarenka is back. After a difficult 2014 featuring a mix of injury and both personal and professional break-ups, she’s clearly come into the new year more positive, energized and ready to regain her top-form. She entered the Australian Open unseeded, yet still managed a run to the Round of 16, scoring convincing wins over a top-10 Caroline Wozniacki and top-25 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. She came into Doha as a wild card, forced to take on last year’s Finalist Angelique Kerber in the First round…and completely rolled over the 8th-seeded German. Vika took the first set at love and only allowed 3-games in the second. A two-time Doha champion, Azarenka missed the tournament last year, so she’s now 11-0 on this court since 2012. After the match, she agreed that when she walked on the court, she couldn’t help but feel like: “This is my house.” The way she played against a top-15 player proved it. Victoria moves on to the Second round where next she’ll play either Elina Svitolina or Daria Gavrilova.

Venus Williams and Flavia Pennetta both made impressive comebacks in their First Round matches. Venus dropped the first set 3-6 against the inspired play of Casey Dellaqua, who came into 2015 ranked inside the top-30 for the first time in her career. Venus made the proper adjustments in the second, imposed her will on the Aussie and only gave-up five games the rest of the way. Flavia Pennetta, meanwhile, struggled with the windy conditions and tightness in her upper-thigh at the top of her match with Svetlana Kuznetsova. She’d eventually overcome both, and her opponent, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. After the match, she admitted that the colder and tricky conditions contributed to her tightness, and she was happy to be through to the Second round. She’ll now face Agnieszka Radwanska, whom Flavia defeated twice last year in straight sets…in Dubai and then the Indian Wells Final, where she won her 10th career title.

The Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova continued her dominant record over Sam Stosur 7-6(3), 6-4. Sam had beaten Lucie last month in Sydney, her first match of the year. That certainly weighed on her mind during the first set where she broke Sam at 5-all. Stosur then delivered a clutch break-back to force the tie-break. In their 13 match history, five have featured first set tie-breaks. History says whoever wins that battle wins the match, and it rang true again as Safarova stole the breaker 7-3 then went on to deliver 6-4 in the second.

In other Day-1 matches, Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova took-out Sabine Lisicki, Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears advanced, and four qualifiers entered the main-draw: Kirsten Flipkens, Stefanie Voegele, Alexandra Dulgeru and Daria Gavrilova.

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RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2015. Qualifying Finals.
[6] [WC] Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 63 64
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) d Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 63 36 64
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) d Saisai Zheng (CHN) 61 60
Daria Gavrilova (RUS) d Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) 16 63 64

RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2015. First Round Singles.
[7] V. Williams (USA) d C. Dellacqua (AUS) 36 62 61
[WC] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [8] A. Kerber (GER) 60 63
L. Safarova (CZE) d S. Stosur (AUS) 76(3) 64
B. Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d S. Lisicki (GER) 75 64
F. Pennetta (ITA) d S. Kuznetsova (RUS) 36 64 62

RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2015. First Round Doubles.
[4] R. Kops-Jones (USA) / A. Spears (USA) d A. Klepac (SLO) / A. Rodionova (AUS) 76(2) 64

Tuesday. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day Two. First Round Singles.
[6] Andrea Petkovic (GER) vs.[Q] Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
[9] Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
Alize Cornet (FRA) vs. [Q] Alexandra Dulgeru (ROU)
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) vs. [Q] Stefanie Voegele (SUI)
Elina Svitolina (UKR) vs. [Q] Daria Gavrilova (RUS)
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) vs. [WC] Ons Jabeur (TUN)
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) vs. [LL] SaiSai Zheng (CHN)

Tuesday. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day Two. Second Round Singles.
[7] Venus Williams (USA) vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (8:00p match)

Tuesday. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day Two. First Round Doubles.
[1] S. Hsieh (TPE) / S. Mirza (IND) vs A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP)
[2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) vs. [Alt] D. Jurak (CRO) / K. Koukalova (CZE)
[3] M. Hingis (SUI) / F. Pennetta (ITA) vs H. Chan (TPE) / C. Dellacqua (AUS)
G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)
K. Pliskova (CZE) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs G. Dabrowski (CAN) / M. Erakovic (NZL)
[WC] V. Azarenka (BLR) / K. Flipkens (BEL) vs [WC] F. Al Nabhani (OMA) / S. Zheng (CHN)