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Swiatek sweeps past Stephens in Dubai opener

IANS | February 21, 2024 11:33 AM

DUBAI: World No.1 Iga Swiatek got off to a winning start at the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-4, 6-4 second-round win over American Sloane Stephens.

After Swiatek recorded four wins to capture the Qatar Open title last week, the Pole needed nearly 2 hours to extend her unbeaten run in the Middle East this year to five in her return to Dubai after a runner-up finish to Barbora Krejcikova in 2023.

Swiatek didn’t have it all her own way against Stephens, who secured an early break of serve to take a 2-1 lead. An unforced error on break point on her own serve in the very next game restored parity but the experienced American atoned for her mistake straight away, taking on the Swiatek serve to record a double break with some aggressive tennis. The pair proceeded to trade breaks in games six through eight.

But Swiatek started to show why she is the world’s top-ranked player, holding serve and taking out Stephens’ serve for a fourth time to seal the first set.

With both players seemingly trying to work each other out, the second set got off to a cagey start. Swiatek held serve to take the opening game. Yet Stephens refused to be outgunned by a player ranked 40 places above her in the opening exchanges and held firm to take the set to 4-4.

After holding serve in game nine, the 2023 Dubai finalist Swiatek turned up the power in Stephens’ next service game to take a 6-4, 6-4 victory and move into the last 16.

Swiatek will next face two-time former Dubai champion and No.15 seed Elina Svitolina for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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