The first two main-draw matches on Ann Jones Centre Court at the Nature Valley Classic were upsets, as fourth seed Elina Svitolina and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka bowed out to Margarita Gasparyan and Hsieh Su-Wei, respectively.
Russian world No.62 Margarita Gasparyan recorded the biggest victory of her career and second against a Top 10 player by overcoming seventh-ranked Elina Svitolina 6-3 3-6 6-4 in Birmingham’s first round on Monday. After scoring her first main-draw win on grass last week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Gasparyan broke her fellow 24-year-old’s serve in the opening game on her way to taking the first set, while Svitolina earned an early break in the second set to get to one set apiece. In the decider it was Gasparyan who secured an insurmountable 4-1 lead and then sealed victory with a backhand volley on her first match point.
World No.28 Hsieh Su-Wei took out Aryna Sabalenka in another three-setter on Monday, beating the Belarusian 6-3 2-6 7-6(1) in an hour and 56 minutes to record the seventh career victory against a Top 10 player. The players split the first two sets with the winners never dropping serve, while in the third set Hsieh recovered from being 4-2 down and stormed through the tiebreak by winning all the points on her opponent’s serve.
Home favorite Johanna Konta, seeded seventh, continues her excellent form from the claycourt season, having shown confidence and consistency in her 6-4 6-2 first-round win over Anett Kontaveit.
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