Jelena Ostapenko overcame a testing first set to defeat Johanna Larsson 7-6(6), 6-1, in the first round of the Korea Open in Seoul.
The Latvian, who is the only top 20 player participating in the tournament, was matched game-by-game throughout the opening set by her Swedish opponent. World No.85 Larsson impressively won 91% of her first service points as ten games went by without a simple break point chance occurring. At 5-5, Ostapenko was a point away from dropping her serve before taking the match into a tiebreaker, which she clinched on her third set point.
“She was playing very good during the first set.” Ostapenko said about her opponent. “She was serving very well. There were some tough games. In the tiebreaker I was fine until and the end and I think it gave me confidence for the second set.”
Clinching the 7-6 lead, the second set was a one-way show for the top seed. Victory was sealed with the help of 27 winners compared to Larsson’s tally of only three. Furthermore, she also hit five aces and converted three out of her five break point opportunities.
“I’m a top 10 player now and players on the court have nothing to lose against me. So they try to show their best (tennis).” Ostapenko reflected.
This week Ostapenko is bidding to win only her second WTA title after the French Open earlier this year. Already a grand slam champion, the focus of the 20-year-old is now on rising further up the world rankings.
“I think the most important thing is to win a grand slam because that is the goal for every tennis player.” She explained. “When I achieved that of course I want to be higher in the rankings. I think if I keep playing well and winning, the ranking (rise) will come.”
In the second round Ostapenko will take on Japan’s Nao Hibino.
Other seeds crash out
Second seed Kiki Bertens suffered a shock defeat in her first round match. Facing compatriot Richel Hogenkamp, she squandered a set and a break lead to go out 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, to the world No.119. It is the third consecutive tournament that the Dutch player has fallen in the first round.
Wild card entrant Han Na-lae delighted her home crowd with a unexpected 6-4, 6-4, triumph over third seed Kristyna Pliskova. 25-year-old Han is yet to break the world’s top 150 and has won seven ITF singles titles in her career so far.
Meanwhile, eighth seed Christina McHale was another casualty. Facing Alexandra Rux, she crashed out 6-3, 6-4. McHale only managed to win three out of her seven service games throughout the match.
Heading into the second round Ostapenko (1), Sorana Cirstea (4), Irina-Camelia Begu (5) and Tatjana Maria (7) are the only seeds left in the draw.
Simona Halep wins the all Romanian battle in Cluj
Simona Halep is into the second round in Cluj after a dominant performance.
The world number 18 and the top seed managed to beat her Romanian counterpart in straight sets.
Simona Halep is through round one of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, after beating a fellow Romanian Elena Gabriella Ruse in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes.
The number one seed served six aces and won 83% of her first serve points in a match that seemed one-sided and Halep was pulling amazing shots and winners throughout the entire match.
“It’s not easy to face a Romanian in the first round of a Romanian tournament but I was very focused and concentrated on what I have to do and I didn’t really think of who I would play, I just wanted to play my game and I felt great on court today.”
It was actually the world 85 with the first breakpoint of the match in the first game but it was denied when Halep stepped up to the service line and fired an ace to save it.
After holding serve the world number 18 started looking for the early lead and she was able to get it after a poor service game from Ruse and after consolidating the break managed to turn it into a double break.
Halep served out the first set in a mere 29 minutes and it was clear she was the better player today.
She continued to ride the momentum into the second set and at 1-1 earned three more chances to break and broke with a stunning return winner that caught Ruse off guard for the 2-1 lead.
At 4-2, the top seed managed to go up a double break with another amazing passing shot and she served out the match and after the match in her post-match press conference, she spoke about pulling off those amazing shots on breakpoints.
“When I have a chance to do it I always do because I love these kinda shots and today it was a great one so it made me very happy.”
Halep will next face the Russian Varvara Gracheva in the next round after she beat the German Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Anett Kontaveit overpowers Krunic in Cluj-Napoca
Anett Kontaveit took a step towards the WTA Finals with a straight sets win in Cluj today.
The number two seed only needed two sets and 70 minutes to beat her Serbian opponent.
Anett Kontaveit is through to the second round of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, beating the Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes.
The world number 14 served two aces and won 69% of the points on her first serve in a match where she seemed to outhit her opponent using her powerful groundstrokes.
“The match was close and it was only break in the first set and I thought I was playing pretty well and winning a lot of points on my first serve but I actually think she served well and it wasn’t an easy match and the second set got really close”.
The Estonian had the better start to the match holding serve in her opening game and putting pressure on the Serb right away earning two chances to break serve and got the early break to take a 2-0 lead.
That one break was enough for Kontaveitt to serve out the first set and take it 6-3.
The second set was a more competitive affair and it stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Tallinn, Estonia native was able to break the Serb at love to take a 3-2 lead and she was able to consolidate the break.
It stayed on serve until 4-3 when the world number 44 fought back and was able to break the Estonian serve and the set went back on serve. Once again both players did a good job holding serve until 5-5 when Kontaveit got the crucial break of serve and served out the match.
After the match in her post-match press conference, Kontaveit spoke about how she was feeling energy-wise after such a short turnaround time from winning the title in Moscow last week.
” I feel like the energy has dropped a little bit but I did manage to bring some of the energy today and still be active and be aggressive.”
Kontaveit will now face Alison Van Uytvanck in her next match after the Belgian beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.
Emma Raducanu battles back to beat Hercog in Cluj
Emma Raducanu won her first match on the WTA tour after beating Polona Hercog in Cluj.
The US Open champion was pushed to the limit in a three-set win over her Slovenian opponent.
Emma Raducanu is through to round two at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca after beating the Slovenian Polona Hercog in three sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a match that lasted two hours and 27 minutes.
The Brit served four aces and won 75% of her first serve points in a match that went back and forth for all three sets and had a rollercoaster feel to it and it was the first time at tour-level Raducanu played a three-set match.
“I feel really happy to have won that match it was actually very difficult and I wasn’t playing my best tennis but Polona (Hercog) is a great opponent and she is really experienced so I really had to fight hard to pull that one through.”
After holding serve in the opening service game of the match the world number 23 put pressure on Hercog’s serve right away and in a game that lasted 10 minutes, it took the Brit six break points before she was able to get the first break of serve of the match.
It stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 124 struck back and managed to get the break back to go back on serve and at 4-4 got the crucial break needed to serve out the first set.
The second set stayed on serve with the 18-year-old getting the first chance to break at 2-1 but Hercog saved all three break points she faced and at 4-4 it was the Slovenian applying pressure and looking for the break.
Raducanu was able to save it and hold serve and at 6-5, she found herself at set point as she managed to win it to force a third and deciding set.
Winning the second set seemed to give the Britt a boost and the motivation to keep fighting and she managed to get the early break to take a 2-0 lead and at 3-0 broke again to go up a double break.
The next game she found herself at match point but the world number 124 was able to save it and the next game Raducanu serve out the match. In her post-match press conference, she spoke about what the key was to turn the match around.
“It feels like a huge win for me and it’s my first WTA tour win which makes me very happy and I think the key was to stay mentally composed and I knew myself I wasn’t playing very well so I just needed to keep going one point at a time and I am really proud of myself how I fought today.”
Raducanu will face a Romanian in her next match on Thursday in Ana Bogden who beat the Serb Ivana Jorovic on Monday and this will be their first-ever meeting.
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