Angelique Kerber’s struggles this season continued Thursday in Stuttgart. Playing in front of her home fans, the world No. 2 was bounced by Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 7-5 in her opening match.
Kerber had just made her first final of the year last week in Monterrey, so hopes were high the lefty could continue to improve, but a poor serving day cost the 2-time Stuttgart champion.
While Kerber falls to 0-7 vs Top 20 players this year, the 19th-ranked Mladenovic is 3-0 vs Top 10s.
Earlier, Maria Sharapova continued her comeback by trouncing Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-1.
“I think after yesterday’s match it was just tough for me to assess the quality of my level and how I played because it was more of an emotional match just to be back after a long time,” Sharapova said. “I felt I was able to settle down and get in more rallies and I felt that we had longer rallies today which is great for me because I got a chance to slide, to work on the movement, to get back in position on the things that you kind of miss when you don’t compete.”
Sharapova will next face Anna Kontaviet. If she wins she’ll take on the Mladenovic/Saurez-Navarro winner. So there’s a good chance the Russian reaches at least the final in her first event back!
In the other half, both lone remaining seeds Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova are alive but Svetlana Kuznetsova (Laura Siegemund) and Johanna Konta (Anna Sevastova) were both upset.
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