Kaia Kanepi is through to qualification round two of the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships after overcoming Ena Shibahara of Japan in three sets, 6: 1, 6: 7 (3: 7), 6: 4, ERR's sports portal reports.
Kanepi, 35, from Haapsalu, ranked 62nd in the world, wrapped up the opening set on the outdoor, hard courts of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in less than half an hour.
However, her opponent – ranked 441 places below her at 503rd – did not give up in the second set. Neither player was able to break the other's serve in regular play, taking things to a tie break, which the Japanese player took by a comfortable margin.
The deciding set saw a continued pressure to break serves, which ultimately Kanepi did three times to Shibahara's two, to take the set 6:4 and therefore the match.
In the decisive set, both players had difficulty keeping their edges, but in the end, the Estonian managed to break Shibahara's ball three times (Japanese Kanepi in two cases) and win the match from the second match.
Kanepi will next face Vera Zvonarjova (WTA 145) of Russia, who overcame Akgul Amanmuradova (Uzbekistan, WTA 425) in straight sets, 6:1, 6:1.
The pair have met once in the past, last autumn, in Istanbul, where Kanepi triumphed 6:3, 6:3.
Anett Kontaveit does not need to qualify for the tournament, the second to take place in the region recently following last week's competition in Doha, Qatar, and is due to meet Timea Babos of Hungary, ranked 105th in the world, in round one of the regular schedule in Dubai.
Editor: Andrew Whyte