Cirstea previously had trouble with Jabeur in Doha last year. This time, they shared 15 double-faults and 11 service breaks before Cirstea prevailed.
Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who won her maiden WTA title her last year and was back as the No. 2 seed, defeated qualifier Nigina Abduraimova of Uzbekistan 6-2, 6-4.
However, three seeds lost: No. 3 Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia to qualifier Misa Eguchi of Japan, No. 4 Kurumi Nara of Japan to Francesa Schiavone, who landed less than half of her first serves, and No. 7 Heather Watson of Britain to Kristina Mladenovic of France, who leads their head-to-heads 3-2.