Bianca Andreescu follows through on a backhand.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Bianca Andreescu was dealt a tough draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the first WTA 1000 event of the 2023 season, and couldn’t overcome a very challenging first round hurdle on Monday afternoon.

The 22-year-old Toronto native was defeated 6-3, 6-4 by world no. 10 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, this year’s Australian Open finalist and the reigning Wimbledon champion.  Rybakina essentially dictated the proceedings from start to finish even though Andreescu did her best, especially in the second set, to put a dent in her early-season dominance.

READ: Monday Digest: All Eyes on Dubai

In the opening frame, Andreescu had an opportunity to gain an advantage over her in-form opponent but was unable to convert any of her four break point opportunities while Rybakina need just one break point chance to grab an early lead.

In set two, Andresscu broke serve twice to jump ahead 3-1 and 4-2, but couldn’t keep the momentum going and quickly gave it back to Rybakina who made sure to close out the match in straight sets thanks to her signature power off the ground which Andreescu was unable to counter. Both players were visited by the trainer during the contest with Rybakina seemingly a bit lethargic early on while Andreescu had her shoulder area worked on. Still, the Kazakh managed to impose her game on her Canadian adversary at key moments to secure the victory.

Andreescu will now look ahead to the WTA 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells, where she is a former champion, and Miami coming up in March.

Meanwhile, Leylah Annie Fernandez will play her second round match Tuesday in Dubai under the lights on Centre Court against World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in one of many marquee matches on the schedule. It will be the second meeting between the two players. Be sure to watch all the action on TSN and RDS.