Many of the top names hit the court for their 2018 clay debuts in Stuttgart Wednesday, and the results were mixed.
In a battle of former Grand Slam champions, home hero Angelique Kerber upended Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-2. Kvitova, who was the seeded player of the two, had beaten Kerber over the weekend in Fed Cup.
“I knew what to expect,” said Kerber. “We played three days ago and I know how she played on Sunday. She was playing a good match. So, I was going out there, I had nothing to lose and I was just trying to play better than on Sunday, doing a few things a little bit different and also being more aggressive than I was on Sunday, taking the match in my hands. So, I think that was for me the most important thing today.”
The 2-time Stuttgart winner will now meet Anett Kontaveit who saved two match points to deny Kiki Mladenovic.
Recent Miami champ Sloane Stephens has her 8-match win streak halted by countrywoman CoCo Vandeweghe in decisive fashion 6-1, 6-0. CoCo was broken in the opening game of the match, then never looked back!
“I didn’t really do all that much – I played solid, and hit deep when I could, and she gave me some errors,” said Vandeweghe who improves to 4-1 lifetime against Stephens.
“I thought I played okay – it’s a different clay court than what we were playing on France for Fed Cup, so it’s just getting used to the conditions, match-by-match.”
World No. 1 Simona Halep had to fight hard to get past Magdalena Rybarikova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“She played really well in the first set; she’s always been a really tough opponent for me,” Halep told the crowd afterward. “I just wanted to keep the ball in, and play more to her backhand. I tried to stop missing because I was missing a lot at the start of the second set. From there, I was able to find the rhythm and play point by point.”
Madison Keys also fell to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 3.
On Thursday, among the highlights will be Diyas-Ostapenko, Kerber-Kontaveit, Pavlyuchenkova-Muguruza, Kostyuk-Garcia.
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