Petra Kvitova suffered a shock 1-6 6-1 6-3 loss to Kristyna Pliskova in the second round of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston.
The loss ended a run of 24 consecutive wins for the No.2 seed over her fellow Czechs and it is the first time either Pliskova sister has beaten Kvitova on the WTA tour.
“I’m really happy,” said Pliskova in her on-court interview. “It’s my second top ten win this year and it’s special against Petra. She’s played so well against Czech players so I’m happy I broke her streak.”
It was looking like the younger Czech would suffer a heavy defeat when she lost the first set 6-1, but she turned the match around completely in sets two and three to earn a deserved victory.
“My serve was horrible in the first set,” said Pliskova. “I feel like it was flying everywhere, so I just focused on my serve. And then the (rest of my) game was a bit better as well.”
The World No.78 certainly served significantly better in the second set. She won 14 of 22 points on her serve compared to 13 of 34 points in the opener.
Pliskova’s improvements on her serve enabled her to swing freely in her return games and she broke Kvitova three times in the second and twice in the decider.
Konta crashes out
Kvitova was not the only high-profile casualty on the clay of South Carolina as Johanna Konta’s poor start to 2018 continued.
The Briton never really got going in her match against Fanny Stollar and lost 6-3 6-4 to the Hungarian qualifier.
It was Konta’s eighth loss in 19 matches so far this season and her second defeat to a player ranked outside the World’s Top 100.
When the Briton is playing well, she invariably serves well, and in the first set her serving was very poor. She only made 48% of her first serves and won just 25% of points on her second serve.
Inevitably, such poor serving gave Stollar numerous opportunities to break Konta, and she did exactly that three times in the opening set.
The 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist raised her level in the second set and it was a much closer affair. However, despite performing better, Konta failed to create a single break point chance in the set.
By contrast, Stollar earned three break points in the set and eventually took the one she needed in game nine before holding serve to seal a famous win.
It was the Hungarian’s second big scalp in Charleston after she beat Vesnina in the second round in 2017. “It looks like this is now my favourite tournament,” she said in her on-court interview.
“She’s really tough to play against,” Stollar said. “I lost to her once already so I was coming out expecting nothing of myself. I was just going to play my game and I really focused on every point.”
The Hungarian continued, “In both sets I really just tried to break her and hold my serve. (I wanted to) keep her behind the baseline and stay aggressive.”
Osaka, Goerges, Barty and Vesnina progress
Elsewhere in Charleston, Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka saw off a strong challenge from Laura Siegemund as she beat the German 6-3 7-6(8).
The Japanese is likely to face a tough task in the last 16 against another German: Julia Goerges. The fifth seed came from a set down to edge out young American Kristie Ahn 2-6 6-4 7-6(1).
Ashleigh Barty backed up her convincing first-round win with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 triumph over Tatjana Maria. The Australian will now play Anastasia Sevastova, who also needed three sets to overcome Caroline Dolehide 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1.
2016 finalist Elena Vesnina stormed to a 6-4 6-1 victory over Taylor Townsend, Camila Giorgi upset 11th seed Daria Gavrilova 6-2 2-6 6-3 and Kiki Bertens beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-2.
Sara Errani continued her progress with a 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu, Alize Cornet took down Polona Hercog 6-2 6-3, Irina-Camelia Begu beat Claire Liu 6-4 6-2 and Bernarda Pera overcame Dayana Yastremska 7-6(4) 1-6 6-4.
Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova rallies from slow start to beat Belinda Bencic in Dubai
Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova came back from one set down to beat defending champion Belinda Bencic 1-6 6-1 6-1 in 1 hour and 30 minutes reaching the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Bencic reeled off the first 19 points of the match to win seven of the first eight games of the match. Pavlyuchenkova bounced back by winning 12 of the last 13 games to clinch her 15th career top 5 win. The Russian player clinched only the second of her six head-to-head matches against Bencic and her first victory against her Swiss rival since Washington 2015. Bencic had won her past three clashes against Pavlyuchenkova at the 2018 Hopman Cup, at Wimbledon 2019 and in the Moscow final 2019.
Bencic earned her first break in the second game after four consecutive unforced errors from Pavlyuchenkova. The Swiss player went up a double break to open up a 4-0 after Pavlyuchenkova made three double faults.
Pavlyuchenkova stopped a losing streak of 19 consecutive points in the fifth game at 15-40 down, but Bencic held her service game at deuce. Bencic missed a point for the bagel, as Pavlyuchenkova won her first game with a service winner. Bencic served out the first set in the next game with consecutive unreturned serves.
Bencic earned an early break at the start of the second set after two double faults from Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian player turned around the match by winning six consecutive games to win the second set 6-1.
Pavlyuchenkova broke at love in the second game and earned the second and third breaks in two deuce games. Pavlyuchenova won a return game for 5-1 with a drive volley and served out on his first set point, as Bencic sent her pass long.
Pavlyuchenkova earned an immediate break with three consecutive winners. The Russian player, who reached the final in Osaka and Moscow, went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead. Bencic pulled back one of the two breaks in the fourth game. Pavlyuchenova broke for the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. She broke Benci for the seventh consecutive time, as Bencic hit her backhand in the net.
“As soon as I won one or two points, I was like right, this is something I need to keep doing. I was trying to realize why I won it, what did I do right. I was just trying to find that rhythm”, said Pavlyuchenkova.
Marketa Vondrousova eases past Anastasija Sevastova in Dubai
Last year’s Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova eased past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and nine minutes to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Vondrousova saved all five break points she faced and converted three of her four chances. The Czech player built up a 4-1 lead with a break in the opening set. Sevastova earned two break-back points at 4-2, but Vondrousova held her serve after four deuces.
Sevastova held serve at love for 5-3 forcing Vondrousova to serve for the set. Vondrousova earned three set points with a dropshot winner and converted her first chance with a drop volley.
Vondrousova earned an early break to take a 2-1 lead in the second set and backed it up to open up a 3-1 lead. Vondrousova went up a double break in the seventh game and converted the first of her three match points with an ace to set up a second round match against either Elina Svitolina or US qualifier Jennifer Brady.
Vondrousova made her come-back at last January’s Australian Open after undergoing surgery last year.
“I know Sevastova is a good player. We played once. I expected a tough match. It was a late match, so I had to stay calm. I am just happy with my win”,said Vondrousova.
Ons Jabeur edges Alison Riske to advance to the second round in Dubai
This year’s Australian Open quarter finalist Ons Jabeur came through a tough battle to edge US Alison Riske 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 13 minutes in their first head-to-head match at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
Jabeur hit 28 winners to 31 unforced errors, while Riske committed 34 unforced errors to just 11 winners.
Riske won the first eight points of the match to break serve in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Jabeur broke back in the fourth game with a forehand down the line to draw level to 2-2. Jabeur saved three break points in the seventh game to hold serve to hold serve for 3-4. Riske fended off two break points in the tenth game to hold serve for 5-5. Riske held serve in the 12th game to draw level to 6-6 after four double faults from Jabeur. The Tunisian player raced out to a 5-0 lead before closing out the first set on her fourth set point.
Riske went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead and closed out the second set with two dropshots. Jabeur received a medical time-out for blisters on both feet while she was trailing 0-5.
The third set started with four consecutive holds. Both players saved break points in the next four deuce games. Jabeur faced two break points at 3-3, but she saved them with two forehands before holding with a backhand winner. Jabeur converted her second break point chance at deuce to take a 5-3 lead before serving out the win at love. Jabeur will face Simona Halep in the second round.
World number 35 Barbora Strycova claimed five of the last six games of the third set to beta last year’s French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 6-4 after 2 hours and 33 minutes to advance to the second round. Strycova, who lost her only head-to-head match against Anisimova in Auckland last year, converted her second break point chance at deuce in the opening game. Anisimova broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Strycova earned her second break to take a 4-3 lead after unforced errors from Anisimova.
Anisimova broke serve at love to draw level to 5-5 and held serve without dropping a point to take a 6-5 lead. Strycova held serve at 30 to draw level to 6-6 before winning the tie-break 7-3.
Anisimova earned an early break in the first game with a backhand down the line. After an easy hold Anisimova broke twice in a row to draw level to a 5-0 lead. Strycova pulled back one of the three breaks in the sixth game but Anisimova served out the second match at 30 in the eighth game.
Anisimova went up a break twice in the third set to take a 4-3 lead, but Strycova broke back to draw level to 4-4. Strycova broke for the third time in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4 setting up a second round match against her doubles partner Hsieh Su-Wei or number 8 seed Petra Martic.
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