Kvitova loses just four points in set in Qatar opener


DOHA — Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova breezed through her Qatar Open first-round match against Cagla Buyakakcay on Tuesday, losing just four points out of a total 28 played in the first set.

Kvitova — currently ranked 21 in the world as she continues her return to top-class tennis following a horrific knife attack just over a year ago — won 6-0, 6-3. The first set took just 19 minutes to complete, the whole match less than an a hour.

The 27-year-old Czech player said the easy victory may have been down to her late arrival in Doha. "You know, I just came yesterday, and I didn't really think too much about the tennis," she told reporters.

"So probably that looked like I played very free, even with sun and wind. And I didn't really know where I am."

Kvitova, who was left with tendon and nerve injuries to her left hand following the attack, said she was happy with her recovery. "I think I'm still progressing and improving my game," she added.

"My hand has allowed me to improve what I can. And obviously it's a lot of hard work off the court and on the court as well. So I'm pretty happy with everything which I've been through."

She plays Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in round two, in a high-quality field. Nine of the world's top ten players are in Qatar, with many just outside the highest rankings also competing.

Among those is world No. 11, Britain's Johanna Konta, who beat America's Bernarda Pera 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 on Tuesday, getting instant revenge on the woman who surprisingly knocked her out of last month's Australian Open.

"I definitely was excited to play her again," said Konta. "I mean I knew it was going to be a challenge, and I'm a big believer in personal growth and improvement, self-improvement. So I definitely took it as an opportunity to really do that."

Briton Konta was broken in the 11th game of the first set but dragged the contest into a tiebreak, which she edged. She then switched gears in the second set to seal the victory in an hour and 28 minutes.

Also through was No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza, who won 6-3, 6-4 against China's Duan Yingying. Muguruza, playing her first event since an early exit at the Australian Open, won in 87 minutes to progress to the round of 16.

"It was a very tough match," Muguruza, who needed eight match points to see off her opponent, said. "It doesn't matter how many match points I had, but I won. That's the important part, and I'm so happy because it's been so long since I've competed. It's good to have a victory."

Halep hails 'beautiful' Australian Open

Beaten Australian Open finalist Simona Halep said Tuesday she enjoyed everything that happened in Melbourne despite being left in tears at losing the chance of her first Grand Slam title.

"Everything was beautiful at that tournament even if I lost the final," the Romanian said at a press conference in Doha as she arrived to play in this week's Qatar Open. "I took only the positives and I'm really motivated to go ahead. So everything was really good for me."

Halep was defeated in a memorable and grueling three-set final by Caroline Wozniacki in Melbourne last month, which also meant she lost her world No. 1 ranking to the Dane.

Previously, she admitted the loss, her third Grand Slam final defeat, had left her in tears. Doha represents Halep's first return to competitive action since Australia as she has been nursing an ankle injury. The injury forced her out of Romania's Fed Cup tie with Canada last weekend.

Halep has the possibility of reclaiming the world's top ranking this week if she reaches at least the quarterfinals and goes one round further than Wozniacki. The 26-year-old's first game is against Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, a former world No. 8.