Ekaterina Makarova strolled to a comfortable straight set win over Zhu Lin, setting up a blockbuster meeting with Dominika Cibulkova in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Taking the early lead in both sets, Makarova never really looked back from then on as she took the victory in just over one hour.
Makarova takes the first set
Zhu seemed on course for a positive start to the match as she went up 40-15 in the opening game of the match, looking to hold serve. However, Makarova rattled off four straight points to get the early service break and got off to the best possible start.
Having some rustiness on her serve in her opening service game, Makarova faced some troubles but still managed to hold onto her service game and extend her lead to two games.
The Chinese finally got herself onto the scoreboard, as she came from 15-30 down to get the encouraging hold and lessen the deficit. As the match progressed, both players became more solid on their serves after both Makarova and Zhu failed to find a breakthrough in any of the following games, making a service break look far from our sights.
Finally, a break point opportunity came our way as the higher-ranked Russian earned the golden chance to extend her lead at 4-2. Nevertheless, Zhu maintained her composure to save the break point with an excellent backhand cross-court winner which was not anticipated by Makarova, eventually holding her serve to keep the scoreline close.
Eventually, Zhu once again held a 40-15 lead while serving to stay in the set, similar to the opening game of the match, but failed to hold onto the lead as Makarova steered to a first set victory after 32 minutes.
Makarova carries the momentum into the second set
Makarova had a tough start to the second set as she faced some troubles in the opening game, eventually holding her serve to 30 and getting a positive start to the set. With the confidence and momentum running in her, the Russian broke serve in the next game as she opened up a 2-0 advantage to lead by a set and a break.
Makarova then affirmed her lead at 3-0, consolidating the break with a comfortable service hold. Zhu finally got herself onto the scoreboard when she got an encouraging hold of service, trailing 1-3 on the scoreboard. This did not seem to affect Makarova as she followed it up with an easy service hold of her own, regaining a three-game lead.
Zhu looked further away from a huge upset when her serve was broken for the fourth time in the match to gift Makarova a 5-1 lead and a chance to serve out the match. Showing some nerves while serving out the match, the former top 10 player allowed Zhu to earn her first break point of the match at the last stage of the match, threatening to get one of the breaks back.
Nevertheless, with the experience and her lefty serve coming to her rescue, Makarova saved a total of three break points and eventually closed out the match in straight sets after just 63 minutes.