Defending Hertogenbosch Champion Anett Kontaveit Falls In First Round
2017 runner-up Natalia Vikhlyantseva also lost her opener.
Anett Kontaveit will not defend her Libema Open title in Hertogenbosch after falling 6-4, 7-6 to unheralded Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in the first round on Tuesday.
Kontaveit, the No. 4 seed in the Netherlands, won just 62 percent of points on her serve and broke Kudermetova only once. The Estonian failed to convert early break points, then could not save the only one she faced in the first set to give the 21-year-old the upper hand.
A grittier Kontaveit played better in the second set, fighting off two match points on Kudermetova’s serve. She then nudged aside four break points in the next game to reach a tiebreak.
The Estonian’s good form ended there, however, as she lost her serve twice in the breaker and allowed Kudermetova to serve out the final two points. The Russian punctuated the victory with a powerful first serve on match point, marking just her second ever win on grass. She next faces Belinda Bencic, who eased past Tereza Martincova 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday.
The 2017 runner-up, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, also fell in her opener, though more unsurprisingly. Vikhlyantseva started strongly against No. 3 seed Kiki Bertens, winning the first set, but could not finish as the Dutchwoman tallied a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 win in two and a half hours.
Bertens raced to a 5-2 lead in the third and held three match points, but failed to convert any of them and was pushed to a tiebreaker. She finally regained control of proceedings there, powering a serve into Vikhlyantseva’s body for a service winner on her fourth match point.
The 26-year-old Bertens, ranked 21st in the world, struggled to take her opportunities throughout: She had three set points in the opening frame before Vikhlyantseva took charge. Bertens rebounded, however, facing no break points in the second set and converting both of her own to set up a decider.
She will meet Kirsten Flipkens, who rolled past Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-0.
Another Belgian, Elise Mertens, also had no trouble in her opener, dispatching Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2 seed converted break points in every game she had them and responded to losing her serve late in the second set by breaking back immediately.
She then dug out of a 15-40 hole while serving for the match, shoving aside one break point with her only ace of the match and using two more forceful serves to close out the Slovenian.
Fifth seed Zhang Shuai joined Kontaveit in the exits, dropping a straight sets decision to Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar.