French duo Alizé Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic suffered differing fortunes on Thursday in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Open.
Alizé Cornet breezed through her match against lucky loser Valentini Grammatikopoulous 6-2, 6-2 while Kristina Mladenovic slumped to a straight sets defeat at the hands of the former world number one Garbine Muguruza.
“It’s always good to start the year with a victory,” said Cornet, who at 31 is starting her 16th year on the circuit. “And it doesn’t matter who it is against. I haven’t played since the French Open in October - it’s been a while and I was just very keen to get out there and play.”
Grammatikopoulous, 23, replaced Elise Mertens at the last minute after the Belgian was forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury.
The world number 269 had gone out in the qualifying tournament but was given another chance when Mertens pulled out. However, against the 53rd ranked Frenchwoman her reprieve lasted just over an hour.
Mladenovic began her match against the fifth seed with a break of serve. After winning her serve to lead 2-0, she held a point to go 3-0 ahead.
But the 27-year-old failed to convert and Muguruza held on.
"Kristina played well at the beginning and she took the advantage," said Muguruza. "And then I started to feel a little bit better and I turned the score around."
The two-time Grand Slam champion went on to win the next five games to take the opening set 6-2.
Mladenovic collapsed when serving to stay in the match. With Muguruza leading 5-4, Mladenovic appeared to be on the verge of levelling when she held three game points at 40-0.
But she served five double faults to hand the game and the match to the Spaniard.
"It’s the first match of the year and it’s a little bit tricky to get the feeling, but I’m happy with the win," said Muguruza.
Muguruza will take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round while Cornet will face Paula Badosa Gibert from Spain.