Bertens, Sevastova, Petkovic kick off Stuttgart with victories

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Main-draw play started at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Tuesday and the schedule featured six first-round matches with three German players keeping the crowd on their toes.

Seed No.6 Bertens, the highest seed in action, defeated German qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-5 6-2 for her 80th main-draw career win on clay and first in Stuttgart. The first set went with serve until the eleventh game, when Bertens finally converted her seventh break point for a 6-5 lead and then saved two break points in the following game to close out the set in 65 minutes. The second set was less of a battle, as the 27-year-old Bertens’ winners and aggression brought her love games and confident breaks, while her service games were never compromised.

The day was also highlighted by a topsy-turvy all-Latvian clash between Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova. The seventh-seeded Sevastova saved all the four break points she faced in the first set to win it 6-2. Ostapenko fired back by winning the first five games of the second set and even though Sevastova’s determination got the set back on serve, she wasn’t capable of completing a comeback, as she gave some free points to her opponent, allowing her to take the match to the third set. The 29-year-old Sevastova raced through the decider, bageling Ostapenko and even winning the last game without losing a point, 6-2 4-6 6-0.

In the second round, Sevastova will face German Laura Siegemund, who is very comfortable on Stuttgart clay, having gone all the way to the title in 2017 and a runner-up finish in 2016. Siegemund recorded the most comfortable victory of the day, losing just four games to Lesia Tsurenko, 6-2 6-2.

German wildcard Andrea Petkovic set up a second-round meeting with compatriot Angelique Kerber, beating qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3 6-4 in the opening round. Journalists had a good time at Petko’s press conference as she discussed her friendship with Angie and the upcoming challenge:

So, we get into exchanges and I feel like I’m dominating the game and then all of a sudden there is a down-the-line winner and I’m like, I just want to punch her (laughs). That would probably be my biggest chance, but then I really like her, so I can’t do that either. So, I just yell at her when we have dinner afterwards. But hopefully now I’ll get her to yell at me at dinner (laughs).

Wildcard Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia lost in straight sets to 192nd-ranked Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen, while Elise Mertens‘ Stuttgart debut was ended in the first round by Daria Kasatkina 7-6(8) 7-5.

Lucie Safarova is enjoying her last days on the WTA tour, as the Czech is set to play her final tournament on home soil in Prague later this month. On Tuesday in Stuttgart, Safarova and her doubles partner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok 7-6(5) 6-4 in the first round.


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