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Ex-world No 1 Ivanovic downs Australian Gavrilova in Dubai – Flu forces Serena out of Qatar Open

Australian tennis player Daria Gavrilova returns the ball to Serbian player Ana Ivanovic in the first round of the WTA Dubai Open tennis competition on Feb 16, in Dubai. (AFP)
Australian tennis player Daria Gavrilova returns the ball to Serbian player Ana Ivanovic in the first round of the WTA Dubai Open tennis competition on Feb 16, in Dubai. (AFP)

DUBAI, Feb 16, (Agencies): Ana Ivanovic followed up last week’s semi-final in Russia with a dynamic start at the Dubai Tennis Championships as the former world number one crushed Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-0.

The first-round rout for the Serb required just 53 minutes as she showed no mercy to her Russian-born opponent, who thrilled her new home audience in Melbourne by reaching the Australian Open fourth round.

Ivanovic reached the final four in St Petersburg at the weekend, losing to US Open finalist Roberta Vinci.

Ivanovic, a three-time Dubai quarter-finalist, broke six times as Gavrilova committed 22 unforced errors. The challenger was playing the event for the first time after losing in qualifying three years ago.

2008 French Open winner Ivanovic, ranked 17th, will face top seed Simona Halep in the second round at the Aviation Club.

Ukrainian Elina Svitolina won a battle with Slovak Jana Cepelova, posting a 6-3, 6-1 result to next take on second seed and 2015 semi-finalist Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

Svitolina, now taking advice from former number one Justine Henin in an arrangement put into place recently, won a massive 17-minute game to earn a 4-1 lead in the second set on the way to her sweep.

The 21-year-old said having another voice in her tennis can only be a huge help.

World number one Serena Williams on Tuesday become the latest high-profile name to pull out of the Qatar Open, citing flu for her withdrawal.

It is the latest blow for organisers coming less than a week after Maria Sharapova pulled out of the Doha tournament which starts on February 21 with an arm injury.

Tournament Director Saad al-Mohannadi admitted the competition would “miss the presence” of Williams.

The American was a finalist at the 2013 tournament where she lost in three sets to Victoria Azarenka.

Ivo Karlovic wasn’t sure he could or should try to defend his title at the Delray Beach Open. An old knee injury had flared up during the Australian Open last month, forcing the 36-year-old Croatian to retire from his first-round match and sidelining him from the practice courts ever since.

Though Karlovic gamely tried to serve his way past 27-year-old qualifier John-Patrick Smith of Australia, his rust was evident and the third seed was ousted 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the opening round on Monday night.

The win was just the fourth main draw match victory of Smith’s career and his second-best win. A four-time All-American at the University of Tennessee, Smith upset No 25 Bernard Tomic en route to the semifinals at Newport last year.

Sixth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium breezed past South Korean Chung Hyeon 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round of the Open 13 on Monday.

Eighth-seeded Benoit Paire also advanced with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Simone Bolelli.

Paire, one of the 10 Frenchmen competing in the singles draw in Marseille, converted four of 16 break points. He next plays either Nicolas Mahut, who reached the semifinals in Rotterdam last week, or qualifier Vincent Millot.

“I’m really happy to win this match and the way I behaved on court,” Paire said. “I hope that I will keep on winning to regain confidence in my game.”

Also, Robin Haase needed just 63 minutes to dispatch Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-0. Up next for the Dutchman is fourth-seeded Marin Cilic.

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