Ana Ivanovic may have wanted to win in different circumstances on Tuesday but the Serb was still thrilled to advance to the second round of the Qatar Open, benefiting from a second set retirement by her opponent Daniela Hantuchova.
Ivanovic, who has now taken her 2014 record to an impressive 10 wins to just one loss, was down 3-5 in the opening set but earned a crucial break in the 10th game to level at 5-5 and ran away with the opening set with an inch perfect return winner.
One game into the second set, Hantuchova withdrew from the match, after having received treatment to her right knee from the trainer between sets.
Ivanovic said: “It’s never easy to finish like this and I really hope she gets better. I thought the first set was really competitive and I am happy I won that set.
“I didn’t have great success here in the past and I hope I can make a difference this year.”
Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova was also struck with bad luck as she was forced to retire from her first round match with Alisa Kleybanova due to gastro intestinal illness.
The 10th seeded Cibulkova, who lost both her Fed Cup singles matches last weekend to Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber, had the stronger start against Kleybanova, who has risen to No180 in the world since her return from cancer treatment, and broke the Russian for a 3-1 lead.
Cibulkova called for the trainer after the fifth game and was seen taking some pills. She then held for a 4-2 lead but Kleybanova broke back to level at 4-4 and, two games later, the world No13 threw in the towel.
“I was really looking forward to playing this week in Doha,” said Cibulkova. “Unfortunately I became very sick today and suddenly did not feel well. I wanted to give it a try and I did everything I could to try to play, but I could not continue.”
Klara Zakopalova, who played five sets on clay on Monday in the rain-postponed Fed Cup tie between Czech Republic and Spain in Seville, put in a monumental effort to beat Elina Svitolina (6-2, 6-4) less than 24 hours later. She takes on Ivanovic in round two.
Her compatriot Lucie Safarova also battled through similar circumstances to take out No16 seed Kirsten Flipkens 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in 128 minutes.
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