Three seeds moved through to the second round of the Dubai Championships Tuesday but weekend WTA champions both fell victim to travel stress and illness in their opening matches in the Gulf.
While Israeli number nine Shahar Peer won in isolation on a secured outside court over Spain's María José Martínez Sánchez 6-4, 6-1, number 11 Italian Flavia Pennetta beat Australian Jelena Dokic 6-2, 6-2 and 12th seed Kaia Kanepi put out Vera Dushevina 6-1, 6-2, there were health problems for a pair of players who had emerged as titleholders just 48 hours earlier.
Daniela Hantuchova experienced the highs and lows of the sport the champion at the Thai resort of Pattaya crashed out with exhaustion 6-1, 6-3 to Anna Chakvetadze.
Czech Petra Kvitova, the number 13, could not follow on from her Paris trophy victory over world number one Kim Clijsters, losing to Japan's Ayumi Morita 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3).
“Everything was bad for me, I was tired and I felt everything,” said Kvitova, winner of last month's season-opening Brisbane title. “I couldn't serve too much because I'm feeling the muscle in the stomach.
“I was slow and tired, it was tough to play. I took a (pain- killing) pill, I'm a little bit injured but it's nothing.”
Nantuchova from Slovakia and ranked 29, claimed her first title since 2007 in Thailand, then caught a flight to the Gulf. Along the way, she ran down her health.
“I couldn't even keep track of the score at one point,” said the two-time quarter-finalist. “It was kind of tough to be focused on the game.”
Hantuchova barely registered in the opening set and trailed 4-1
in the second before receiving medical treatment on court which included a blood pressure reading.
But the 27-year-old soldiered on, staging a mini-comeback to pull to 3-4 before her Russian opponent finally salted away only her second win of the season.
Hantuchova admitted the early loss was a bitter blow after her recent success.
“It's always very emotional when you win a tournament, especially there was no time to rest or anything,” she said.
“We went straight to the airport and flew all night. Yesterday I was trying to recover, but there was just not enough time.”
The experienced campaigner refused to blame WTA scheduling or a crowded calendar for her predicament.
“I was happy to win the tournament there, but of course I wanted to do well here as well,” she said.
“For that I think I would need at least three, four days to get used to. Here the conditions are so different, players arrive so early before the tournament to be ready.
“To expect to get used to it after a 30-minute hit, it's impossible.”
Chakvetadze admitted she wasn't at her best either. “I'm not at 100 per cent, I had to keep my energy and save it for the next match.”
In other first-round matches, Italy's Roberta Vinci defeated Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3 and Andre Andrea Petkovic staged a third-set comeback to overhaul German compatriot Angelique Kerber 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Belgian Yanina Wickmayer defeated young Serb hope Bojana
Jovanovski 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. -