Kerber easily advances to 2nd round in Dubai; Bellis wins

Angelique Kerber of Germany returns the ball to Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Caroline Garcia of Spain celebrates after she beats Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Angelique Kerber of Germany reacts after she got a point against Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber needed less than an hour to beat Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1 Tuesday in the first round of the Dubai Championships.

Fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia of France also advanced, beating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5.

Kerber was broken in the opening game but had no trouble the rest of the way against the 2016 runner-up. She broke back immediately and earned another break in the fourth game to take control of the match. She will next face Italy's Sara Errani.

"I played a solid match," Kerber said. "It's always tough to play against her. You never know what's going to happen. She's always a fighter."

American 18-year-old Catherine Bellis followed up her quarterfinal appearance in Doha by beating Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3. Bellis, who lost to Simona Halep in Doha, will face Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza next.

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

Samantha Stosur, one of the four Grand Slam champions in the field, lost 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 to the hard-hitting Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.

Qiang Wang of China was the quickest winner of the day, beating Belgium's Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-0 in just 55 minutes.

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