Power Players Sabalenka, Rybakina Rolls In Berlin Openers, Defending Champ Jabeur Upset

by Staff | June 20th, 2023, 5:06 pm
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In Berlin, Germany, at the Bett1 Open in first round action Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina began her grass campaign with a solid 6-4, 6-2 win over 20-year-old Polina Kudermetova 6-4, 6-2.

The 24-year-old Rybakina tallied nine aces, never lost serve while breaking the Russian three times in the match, her first on grass since winning Wimbledon last year.

Germany’s Jule Niemeier surprised Ons Jabeur in her title defense in straights 7-6(7-4), 6-4.

The 120th-ranked Niemeier, who made the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year, lost just 6 points on first serve.

“It’s an amazing feeling, to be honest,” Niemeier said to the WTA. “I lost in three sets the last two years, so when I won the first set, I was like, ‘At least I can play three sets again like the last two years. I was pretty positive, and it feels amazing to get the win today.”

Jabeur is now just 4-4 in her last eight matches with a Wimbledon final defense looming.

In a match-up of world No. 2s, Aryna Sabalenka cruised past Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2.

The top-seeded Sabalenka hit five aces, won 26/29 (90%) first service points and never faced a break point in the easy win.

Other Tuesday matches saw the 5th-seeded Coco Gauff advanced past Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. Rising star Elina Avanesyan upset the 8th-seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(9-7). Ekaterina Alexandrova toppled Liudmila Samsonova 6-4, 6-3. And Anna Blinkova battled past Laura Siegemund in three 6-3, 6-7(3-7), 7-5.

In second round play tomorrow, Rybakina will meet Donna Vekic. Rybakina won their only meeting at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

No. 3 Caroline Garcia will meet Jaimee Fourlis in a first-time tour-level contest

No. 6 Maria Sakkari takes on Alize Cornet and Marketa Vondrousova faces Bianca Andreescu both first round delayed matches.

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