Former champion Petra Kvitova lasted less than 80 minutes on Centre Court in a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Sloane Stephens in the first round at Wimbledon on Monday.
Stephens, who won the 2017 US Open title, didn’t even play a grass lead up after her second week French Open run. But she’s now beaten the Czech in three of their four meetings.
“I did that super well today,” Stephens said. “Instead of being super passive, I was super aggressive on the returns. I was trying to make her play and be on her back foot. Obviously she likes to play super aggressive and inside the court. I knew I needed to play first-ball tennis, and I did that pretty well today, which is good.
“It’s a great build, a great first match. Obviously, grass or not, wanting to get a good win like this is really important. I think not only for this tournament but going into the rest of the season, for me, it’s pretty big. I’m excited to have a good win here and hopefully continue to play some good tennis.”
Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, failed to find any part of her game, and couldn’t even hit an ace in the straight set loss.
“I felt that I do have a kind of ability to win the match,” Kvitova said. “I just didn’t find the best for me today. It was really tough. I just didn’t play the best. I think that she played really solid. She was just better today.
“It was tough for me to get to the final shots as well. My game, which I love to open the court a little bit more. But I just couldn’t make it. I just felt like little bit under pressure as well. She played pretty long balls as well, very deep. It was a bit difficult for me to find something. With the nerves, and not really great movement from my side, it was just a bit difficult.”
While Kvitova crashed out, 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza dominated winning the first 11 games during a 6-0, 6-1 destruction over Fiona Ferro.
“I was preparing for a battle, especially in grass court, which is sometimes difficult to play,” Muguruza said. “Happy I felt good on the court. Since the first ball I was trying to dominate the point, and I felt I was doing it.
“I think she didn’t have her best day, but I felt in control in the match.”
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka also cruised into the second round blasting past the slicing and dicing Monica Niculescu 6-1, 6-4.
“Of course in the beginning, I was really nervous to open Wimbledon and also be first playing on court,” Sabalenka said. “But, really happy that I won that match. The atmosphere there was unbelievable. I was enjoying it. People were supporting really well.”
Former French winner and junior Wimbledon champion Iga Swiatek looked good in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Su-Wei Hsieh.
Americans enjoyed a strong day. In addition to Stephens, Sofia Kenin, Danielle Collins, Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and Kristie Ahn advanced. Ahn, a lucky loser, eliminated Heather Watson 2-6, 7-6(3), 8-6 in a match that ended around 10:30pm local time under the Court 1 roof.
On Tuesday, the first round continues with tournament favorites Serena Williams and Ash Barty. Also in action are Angelique Kerber, Bianca Andreescu, Venus Williams, Barbora Krejcikova and Coco Gauff.
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