Canada's Leylah Fernandez cruises to 1st-round win over Bernarda Pera at Dubai Open

Canada's Leylah Fernandez cruised into the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Bernarda Pera of the United States on Monday.

21-year-old from Laval, Que., improves record this season to 6-3

A female tennis player is seen celebrating a point while making a fist.
Canada's Leylah Fernandez celebrates, seen in April 2023, will next face world No. 26 Jasmine Paolini of Italy at the Dubai Tennis Championships after advancing in the first round on Monday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/File)

Canada's Leylah Fernandez cruised into the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Bernarda Pera of the United States on Monday.

Fernandez converted four of her five breaks in the second set and wrapped up the match in 79 minutes to improve to 2-0 against Pera.

The 21-year-old from Laval, Que., improved her record this season to 6-3.

She entered the WTA 1000 tournament with a season-high world ranking of 33rd, a five-point jump from last week after she advanced to the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open.

Fernandez will next face world No. 26 Jasmine Paolini of Italy. Paolini advanced with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over 11th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.

Fernandez is 3-0 against Paolini, including a singles victory in Canada's 2-0 win over Italy in the 2023 Billie Jean Cup final.

In first-round doubles action, Fernandez and partner Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia fell 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 to Russia's Mirra Andreeva and Sofia Kenin of the U.S.

Alcaraz injured

Two-time major winner Carlos Alcaraz retired hurt from the Rio Open after two games due to a right ankle injury.

The retirement at 1-1 meant Brazil's Thiago Monteiro advanced to the second round. He will face his compatriot Felipe Meligeni Alves for a place in the quarterfinals.

Alcaraz twisted his ankle in the first game after only two points. He received medical attention, broke Monteiro's serve, but after the Brazilian pulled level he shook his rival's hand and left the court walking as his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero looked concerned.

The Spanish player said his doctors said the injury was not serious.

"These things happen, even more so on clay," Alcaraz said, "It was not a problem of the court, I got injured as I switched direction. That happens in this kind of surface."

Alcaraz said he does feel pain when he walks and that he will have medical scans on Wednesday.

"I came back to the game to see whether I could carry on or not. I spoke to the physio on the court and we decided together I should continue to see if this would get better. It didn't happen, so we chose to be careful and abandon due to precaution," he said.

Monteiro said it was strange to go through after playing so little time against Alcaraz.

"On the court it didn't look so serious, but then I saw it in the big screen and it was a bad twist. Now I can only cheer for him to recover, he is a star, a dominant one in the new generation," the Brazilian said.

Alcaraz was the runner-up at the clay court tournament in Rio de Janeiro last year, and its winner in 2022.

The injury adds to Alcaraz's below-par performances at the Argentina Open last week. The 20-year-old, who won the title in 2023, was eliminated by Chile's Nicolas Jarry in the semifinals in Buenos Aires.

Earlier, three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka was beaten 7-5, 6-4 in the first round by Argentina's Facundo Diaz Acosta. The 23-year-old Diaz Acosta beat Jarry in the final to win his first title on Sunday at the Argentina Open.

Azarenka lines up Rybakina early

Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka put away Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-4 and set up a second-round matchup with Elena Rybakina.

The top four women — Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, Rybakina — are reunited for the first time since the Australian Open. All of them received first-round byes and will play on Tuesday.

No. 1-ranked Swiatek overcame Rybakina in the Doha final on Saturday. The Doha-Dubai title double was last achieved in 2007 by Justine Henin. Swiatek lost in the final last year. She starts against former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

No. 2 Sabalenka ends a three-week layoff since winning her second straight Australian Open. She faces Donna Vekic but has never passed the Dubai quarterfinals.

No. 3 Gauff has Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy, and No. 4 Rybakina plays Azarenka. She has a 2-0 record against Azarenka.

Former champions Elena Svitolina and No. 9-seeded Jelena Ostapenko won.

Svitolina, the winner in 2017 and 2018, defeated fellow Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 7-6 (7).

Ostapenko defied 11 aces from Wang Xiyu of China to prevail 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours. The 2022 champion has won in Adelaide and Linz already this year.

Also in form is Karolina Pliskova, a former finalist. The Czech won in Cluj-Napoca two weeks ago and reached the Doha semifinals last week. Pliskova defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 7-5.

With files from The Associated Press

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