WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships 2016: Preview of Tuesday’s First Round Matches

This post previews two of the first round matches from the Dubai Duty Free Championships main draw set to be played on Tuesday including Ana Ivanovic v Daria Gavrilova and Belinda Bencic v Jelena Jankovic. In case you missed it, you can read a preview of the full main draw for the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Championships on mootennis.com HERE.

1. Ana Ivanovic v Daria Gavrilova


The pick of the first round matches in Dubai features a Rome rematch between Ana Ivanovic and Daria Gavrilova on Tuesday. This match happening so early is a mark of Ivanovic’s current ranking which was not good enough to secure a seeding. Ivanovic reached the semi-finals in St. Petersburg where she enjoyed two solid wins, particularly the one over Margarita Gasparyan, which was her best performance of the year so far. After a promising start in the semi-finals against Roberta Vinci, she went down in straight sets, 5-7 4-6, running out of ideas against a very solid Vinci with a steady stream of unforced errors.

Gavrilova will be playing her first tournament since the Australian Open where she produced her best performance at a Grand Slam, reaching the fourth round. Victories over Petra Kvitova and Kristina Mladenovic further cemented what was a breakthrough year in 2015. In what is the dreaded sophomore year, Gavrilova has made a very encouraging start.

Head-to-head record: In their only previous match, Gavrilova edged Ivanovic, 5-7 7-6(2) 7-6(7) in an absolute rollercoaster of a match in Rome last year. Ivanovic failed to serve out the match in the third set but then saved seven match points before Gavrilova deservedly sealed the win courtesy of two forehand errors from Ivanovic.

Final thoughts: Gavrilova has that win over Ivanovic to her credit and has come on leaps and bounds even since that run in Rome. I wonder where Ivanovic’s state of mind will be after the loss to Vinci where she didn’t put up much resistance at the end. Gavrilova is one of the gutsiest competitors out there and with Ivanovic potentially feeling vulnerable, i’d go for the rankings upset in this one.

Prediction: Gavrilova d. Ivanovic in 3 sets

2. Belinda Bencic (5) v Jelena Jankovic


Belinda Bencic, newly appointed to the world’s top ten, is having a marvellous start to 2016. The Swiss player is already at 12 match wins for the year after reaching the final of St. Petersburg where she lost out to Roberta Vinci. In stark contrast, ventures in 2016 haven’t been so fruitful for her first round opponent in Dubai, Jelena Jankovic. The Serb has just two wins to her name and lost both her singles matches in Fed Cup action to Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro.

H2H Record: Bencic leads Jankovic in their head-to-head, 2-1. While Jankovic won their last match on hard courts in a superb fourth round encounter at Indian Wells. Bencic won their last match on grass in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 6-3 6-3.

Interesting stat: The last six sets between Jankovic and Bencic have all finished with the scoreline, 6-3.

Final thoughts: Jankovic does have a win on hard courts over Bencic, but the Swiss player has come on so much in the last year. Her greatest strength right now is coming through in the crucial moments, something that Jankovic hasn’t done much of this year! JJ can still produce some excellent tennis; notably her run in Hong Kong last year where she beat Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams back-to-back. Bencic though has shown her ability to adapt to these kinds of situations in the past and transitioning between tournaments despite having playing a lot of tennis…

Prediction: Bencic d. Jankovic in 3 sets

29 thoughts on “WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships 2016: Preview of Tuesday’s First Round Matches

  1. These two matches can definitely go either way.

    The first match between Ana and Daria was a rollercoaster and I believe this one will be too, due to the nature of both players. Both talented, but both can show huge mental lapses in-game. So it will probably be a matter of Daria overcoming her lack of experience vs. Ana overcoming her focus issues. Also, Ana’s recent history doesn’t favour her as an in-form player. My heart says Ana, but my gut says Daria, just for being so gutsy.

    Belinda vs. Jelena, I’d say B.B. has a small edge over J.J. Her growth was amazing these past few months and she’s become a very consistent player, which cannot be said about J.J. who also can display huge fluctuations during the same match. If Bencic keeps her cool, I’d say she has a really good shot at moving forward.

    PS: Nice preview post, James.


    • Thanks, Alex. Nice to see your name in the comments again 🙂 I agree, both look close on paper. I could really see Ana-Dasha going either way. Originally had BB in two sets but I think she could take some time to adjust to the new surface and JJ is decent on hard courts, despite the slow start to 2016.


      • Nice to be back James, though I never left. Just kept reading 🙂

        BB could indeed take longer to adjust, plus she’s been playing a lot the past 6-7 months. The result in the final with Vinci might not give her a lot of confidence in this game, but I still believe she has a small edge, like a 55-45 for BB. In truth, either can win and this is the beauty of Dubai/Doha. The draws are always so tighly matched from day one. Guess the nice prizes play a part in the good rooster too. Particularly the top half this year looks very tight and interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well James, your gut about JJ was spot on, indeed she took a small edge, a bit more composed than BB.

        But boooy we were wrong about Ana vs. Daria. That was a massacre. What a complete off day Daria had and Ana, I haven’t see her like this in a long while. Really looking forward to tomorrow’s game with Simona. Hopefully, Ana will be up to par playing 2 days in a row and Simona back with some confidence so that we get an entertaining match! Looking forward to your preview on this. 🙂


  2. The Ivanovic win in Rome was Gavrilova’s big breakthrough last year if im not mistaken? And a really tough loss for Ana.
    I’m not sure how to call it. Its a super quick court so nothing like their last match. Ana’s groundstroke speed should give her the advantage- in the first set against Kozlova her groundstrokes were averaging 118mph which is pretty incredible- but she also likes time to unwind on her forehand. And you never know what to expect from Dasha.


    • You must be an Ivanovic fan. I think she is most likely to fly back to Germany tomorrow (kidding). I think these two matches can go either way. Daria and Ivanovic play in the afternoon, so the balls will fly higher than the night matches. It may help Daria to spin the balls if the court is fast.

      Bencic and Jankovic play at night. The condition will be cold, balls fly lower but still very fast. This condition may suit Bencic because the balls will travel faster when she flip back to the other end.

      Daria and Bencic will go through.


  3. Alll predictions gone for a toss.Pliskova gone(she can’t ever cover the full court,she is lazy or suffering from some ailment) .Tommorow Ivanovic and Bencic will be out


    • Pliskova was odd because it felt like she was in full control up until the tiebreaker… her first serve wasn’t its usual brilliance though. I hope she isnt a flash in the pan top ten player who slides down the rankings and has an occasional good run to keep her in the top 30. 😦


  4. I think the fast low bouncing court may affect certain players. Pliskova and Kuznetsova definitely were the two obvious victims of the court conditions.

    I have a feeling the low bouncing court may suit Daria better than Ivanovic. Similar, Jankovic will face similar problems like Kuznetsova.


    • I think court conditions do mean a lot and in Dubai/Doha, they do change a lot with it being much colder at night. For Pliskova today, she just didn’t seem to get up for this match and she lost heart after dropping her serve for the first time in the second set. She was quite passive and way behind the baseline allowing CoCo to dictate. Still, credit to CoCo for getting her first win this year.


  5. Wow. I wasn’t able to watch the match but seeing the scores, it’s very impressive and very dominant. Ana Ivanovic won 6-1 6-0, limiting Dasha into 7 points in the second set. Was Dasha injured or is it a good sign for Ivanovic?


    • Watched bits of the match, Ivanovic played really well and was in complete control but no resistance whatsoever from Gavrilova who finished with 3 winners to 22 unforced errors!


    • It must be aweful then. (To watch I mean)

      It’s very weird for a good defender and a gutsy competitor to lose like that, just like Kuznetsova yesterday.


      • It wasnt an awful match. The guys on here are quick to dismiss Ivanovic but stats dont lie and she had a 72% first serves in, 19 winners to 16 ufe’s and, converted 6/9 of break points and won all 8 of her points at the net.
        The secont set was sloppy from Gavrilova but the first set was just Ana playing lights out.


      • It’s not that it’s easy to write her off. These predictions are made based on current form not of their overall talent.

        Honestly, I am an Ivanovic fan. Sometimes its hard to read some predictions that are against her, but they sounds so legitimate based on her current form. That’s why I am really glad she’s dusted Dasha off just like that (never allowing Dasha’s gutsiness to come). But who knows, whenever this kind of Ivanovic will show.


      • Yes there seem to be a few people in the comments section not keen on Ivanovic! She’s actually done well to turn around what was a poor start to the year. I think this match will be a solid indicator to see where her level is at.


  6. Loving the way Bencic is getting frustated and doing all sort of things to her poor racquet.Lovely two sets.Its now all for Jankovic to lose from here.


  7. Really good win for Ana. She played lights out her first match here last year though and went down in her second match. Halep will be a tough one for her mentally but it’ll be good to see where her game is.


  8. As I have mentioned many times regarding Bencic,her 2nd serve needs work and attention ASAP,also her movement could be better.At times during her matches,her attitude leaves me cold.
    Well done JJ it was quite a battle!


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