While the top-4 players – Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska – received First round byes…
- #5 Ekaterina Makarova drew Garbine Muguruza
- #6 Andrea Petkovic drew a Qualifier
- #7 Venus Williams drew Casey Dellacqua
- and #8 Angelique drew…Victoria Azarenka. Ouch.
2015’s Qatar Total Open proves to be a tough campaign if Angelique is to repeat last year’s success. Should she get past Vika in the First round, she could still have to face defending champion Simona Halep in the Quarterfinals.
TRUTH: If anyone has the strength, endurance and determination to weather the storm, it’s Kerber. In 2014, she posted wins over top-10 players Maria Sharapova, Dominika Cibulkova and Caroline Wozniacki.
Simona Halep couldn’t join us for Saturday’s draw because she was busy winning her second title of the year in Dubai: 6-4, 7-6(4) over Karolina Pliskova. Remarkably, Dubai is Simona’s 10th career WTA title; a run that started only 20 months back with her first career win in Nurnberg.
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur also joined us for the draw. Like Azarenka and Wozniacki, she enters this year’s tournament as a Wild Card and drew Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in the First round. Ons comes into the Qatar Total Open ranked #130 in the world, Diyas #33. The two have played once before, two years ago on grass in Kurume, Japan. Jabeur won that match in three sets: 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
On a side note, it was very cool to meet Jabeur’s fiance at the draw, Karim Kamoun. He’s a Tunisian fencing champion who won the Silver in Team Foil and and the Bronze in Individual Foil while I was here in Doha for the 2011 Arab Games. He and Ons plan on getting hitched this October, and like most dudes…was completely clueless about the details of the big day. Smart man. Just say “yes” to whatever she plans and be there to write the check…it’s worked out for the rest of us!
The second round of qualifying fires-up tomorrow at 2:30, with the final round of qualifying mixed-in with First round play on Monday. Notable upsets in the first round of qualies today: Francesca Schiavone over Belinda Bencic, Kateryna Kozlova over Mona Barthel, Su-Wei Hseih over Klara Koukalova and Yulia Putintseva over Bojana Jovanovski.
Congratulations to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. They won the Dubai doubles title earlier today over Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2 (Timea’s 8th career WTA doubles title, Kristina’s 9th). They took the first flight out after the win. Now, both will have to win TWO matches tomorrow in order to reach the final round of qualies. And you thought Kerber’s draw was a tough one!
Tomorrow, Kristina will first play Germany’s Julia Georges at 2:30p. Should she win, she’ll have to face Russia’s Daria Gavrilova later that night. Timea’s first test will be Marina Erakovic, also at 2:30. Should she advance, she’ll then battle Kateryna Kozlova after 5:00p.
RESULTS: Qatar Total Open 2015. Qualifying First Round.
F. Schiavone (ITA) d  B. Bencic (SUI) 67(4) 62 62
K. Kozlova (UKR) d  M. Barthel (GER) 62 62
 H. Watson (GBR) d [WC] O. Mourad (QAT) 61 60
S. Hsieh (TPE) d  K. Koukalova (CZE) 60 62
 J. Gajdosova (AUS) d M. Minella (LUX) 76(4) 61
 [WC] K. Flipkens (BEL) d [WC] F. Al Nabhani (OMA) 60 63
Y. Putintseva (KAZ) d  B. Jovanovski (SRB) 64 64
S. Voegele (SUI) d Y. Beygelzimer (UKR) 63 64
An. Rodionova (AUS) d E. Kulichkova (RUS) 64 46 64
Q. Wang (CHN) d A. Beck (GER) 61 60
S. Zheng (CHN) d Y. Chan (TPE) 60 00 Retired
A. Dulgheru (ROU) d G. Dabrowski (CAN) 62 62
S. Peer (ISR) d E. Vesnina (RUS) 64 30 Retired
D. Gavrilova (RUS) d A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 36 61 64
SUNDAY: Qatar Total Open 2015. Qualifying.
 H. Watson (GBR) vs S. Zheng (CHN)
 [WC] K. Flipkens (BEL) vs Q. Wang (CHN)
 J. Gajdosova (AUS) vs A. Dulgheru (ROU)
[WC] K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs  J. Goerges (GER)
[WC] K. Mladenovic (FRA) or  J. Goerges (GER) vs D. Gavrilova (RUS)
T. Babos (HUN) vs M. Erakovic (NZL)
T. Babos (HUN) or M. Erakovic (NZL) vs K. Kozlova (UKR)
F. Schiavone (ITA) vs S. Voegele (SUI)
An. Rodionova (AUS) vs Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
S. Hsieh (TPE) vs S. Peer (ISR)