Catherine Bellis, Caroline Wozniacki winners in Dubai on Monday

WTA Dubai’s main draw saw the completion of first-round matches on Monday.

The WTA Dubai event (Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships) is underway in the middle east, a tournament on the women’s tour that features Karolina Pliskova as the favorite. However, she and other top-ranked players in the field enjoyed first-round byes on Monday as the main draw for the event started. Several other players were in action, including prodigy-player Catherine Bellis of the United States and former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Bellis made some tennis news back in December when she competed in and won a WTA event in Honolulu. Afterward she missed some time with an injury, a setback that cost her a chance to play at the Australian Open.

The seventeen year old may very well be the next big thing, not just in American tennis but on the world stage. Currently ranked 70th in the world, there is plenty of work ahead for the teenager, however she certainly has time on her side too. On Monday in Dubai, she enjoyed a victory over Yulia Putintseva, the 17th seed in the tournament. As a result, Bellis will play in the round of 32 against Germany’s Laura Siegemund.

Bellis is capable of a deep run in Dubai, however the same could be said of many players. The Dubai tournament has some wide-open sections of the draw where numerous players might stake a spot in the semifinals. If Bellis survives Siegemund, then the American might play Agnieszka Radwanska. The four seed in the event has started the season off poorly and certainly might fall in the early-to-mid rounds of the tournament.

Bellis Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki appears as though she will have a tough week ahead. The Dane was a part of the rain-soaked event in Doha last week, a tournament that she made the final in. On Monday she enjoyed a straight-sets victory over Daria Kasatkina of Russia in Dubai. The result puts Wozniacki into the round of 32 where she will next face Viktorija Golubic.

Wozniacki, who is seeded 10th in the event, can’t be unhappy with the draw she has. However, the Dane did not enjoy a bye in Doha last week and nor did she get one in Dubai this week as her ranking is still low following injury time from 2016. It would take something special for her to stay energetic all week in Dubai to make the final, having just completed her tournament in Doha on the weekend.

Other key players that advanced on Monday included Monica Puig. The Rio gold medalist had a poor start to the season in the South Pacific and seems motivated to make some amends. She has Caroline Garcia in the 2nd round and perhaps Angelique Kerber after that, the top seed in the event.

Shane Lambert