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Wed 21 Feb 2018 08:19 AM

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Former US Open champion Stosur's struggles continue as she crashes out in Dubai

Former number one Angelique Kerber shrugged off an early break to move into the second round

Former US Open champion Stosur's struggles continue as she crashes out in Dubai
Samantha Stosur of Australia returns the ball to Estonia's Anett Kontaveit during day two of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Tennis Stadium.

Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur crashed out Tuesday in the first round of the Dubai Championship 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Estonian Anett Kontaveit.

After winning the opening set, Stosur lost the second and then trailed 2-5 in the third, reaching 4-5 but double-faulting on a Kontaveit match point to go out.

Former number one Angelique Kerber shrugged off a break in the first game of her match against Czech Barbora Strycova and won 6-2, 6-1 to move into the second round.

Kerber, Sydney champion and an Australian Open semi-finalist this season, took 50 minutes to win  for the seventh time in eight meetings with Strycova

"It's always tough to play her, but I was just focusing on my game," the ninth-ranked Kerber said. "I was playing aggressive and going point by point.

"I'm feeling great so far this season, winning matches is really a great feeling, it's always important for me."

Stosur had been forced to qualify into a tournament for the first time since Zurich in 2008 and won three times over the weekend to reach the main draw. Before arriving in Dubai, the 33-year-old Australian had lost five matches and only won twice in 2018.

Stosur was plagued by eight double faults, was broken four times and managed a single ace as she lost in an hour and three-quarters at the Aviation Club.

American CiCi Bellis advanced past Belgium's Australian Open semi-finalist Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-3 while Wang Qiang of China beat Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-0 in 55 minutes.

Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro beat Russia qualifier Sofya Zhuk 6-2, 6-2.

Wild card Bellis, a 2017 quarter-finalist here, earned a date with second seed and current Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza a week after beating US Open finalist Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova in Qatar.

"I've never played her before. It's definitely going to be a new experience for me. It will be fun. She's an unbelievable player," Bellis said.

"She's been at the top of the game for a while now. It will be great for me just to see where my game lines up against another one of the top players."