Angelique Kerber’s reign at No. 1 in 2017 continues to astound. As in, it’s astounding she’s No. 1.
Kerber, who withdrew from Madrid with a hamstring injury, looked hamstrung in her opening match on Wednesday at the Italian Open, falling 6-4, 6-0 to unseeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit in Rome.
Kontaveit’s enthusiasm was not colored by her opponent’s injury.
“It’s my first time beating the No. 1 in the world, so, you know, I’m super excited,” said the player ranked outside the Top 50.
Kerber is 19-12 win-loss this year without a title, with only one runner-up effort at Monterrey.
Also upset-minded on Wednesday were Russian Ekaterina Makarova who upended No. 4 Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 6-1, 6-3, and the Swiss Bacsinszky defeated No. 14 Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-2.
Top 10-seeded winners were No. 2 Karolina Pliskova rolling over American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 Garbine Muguruza coming from a set down to beat Jelena Ostapenko 2-6, 6-2, 6-1; No. 6 Simona Halep beating Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-4; No. 8 Elina Svitolina edging Alize Cornet 6-4, 7-6(11); and No. 9 Venus Williams defeating the Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3.
“I think this was my easiest match this year,” Pliskova said after dropping only two games against the American Davis, and will next meet Timea Bacsinszky. “I am expecting a tough one against Timea.”
Halep was 0-2 career against Siegemund entering the match.
“Today was difficult,” Halep said. “I was a little bit nervous before the match, because it’s very hot here. Everything is different. The racquet is different. I feel it was a little bit tighter strung. I had to adjust, to adapt to this court, but was not easy at all today. So I’m just happy that I could win.”
Next up for Williams is Johanna Konta.
“I have never played her on clay,” the elder Williams sister said. “I don’t know really what to expect. I will try to continue to execute my game and, you know, do my best.”
Muguruza will next face German Julia Goerges, who came from a set down to defeat former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-1.
Other seeded winners were No. 12 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beating Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(4), 6-2, and No. 15 Kiki Bertens easing past American CiCi Bellis 6-4, 6-0.
Highlights on Thursday’s docket in Rome are (7) Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. (Q) Daria Gavrilova, (6) Simona Halep vs. (12) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, (5) Johanna Konta vs. (9) Venus Williams, (3) Garbine Muguruza vs. Julia Goerges, and (2) Katerina Pliskova vs. Timea Bacsinszy.
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