Pliskova topples Kanepi in Berlin opener

Former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova kicked off her grass-court season with a win, as the No.4 seed from the Czech Republic defeated dangerous floater Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-0 in the first round of the bett1open in Berlin.

Pliskova, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up, improved to 4-0 against Kanepi with the 1-hour and 43-minute victory, as she tries to turn around a tough season. Pliskova missed the first two months of this year with a hand injury, and is only 7-8 since returning in March.

Meanwhile, Kanepi, the oldest player in the field at 37, is known for being an upset specialist. The former World No.15 has racked up 15 Top 10 wins in her career, including at both of this year’s Grand Slam events.

Indeed, the match was on upset alert early. Kanepi went 0-for-7 on break points in the opening frame, but she still took the one-set lead in the tiebreak by forcing a Pliskova error with a big return on her first set point.

Highlights: Pliskova def. Kanepi

After that, though, Pliskova’s game fell into place while Kanepi’s winner total dipped. With strong passes and excellent serves at her disposal, Pliskova slammed 11 winners to just five unforced errors while sweeping through the second set without the loss of a game.

It was more of the same for Pliskova in the final set, and she reeled off the last 12 games in succession to notch two bagels in a row. Pliskova finished the match with 44 winners, including 17 aces, as she clinched her first victory in Berlin.

Among other Day 1 results, recent Roland Garros semifinalist Daria Kasatkina also started the week with a win, as the No.6 seed ousted Anhelina Kalinina 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 in 2 hours and 17 minutes. Kasatkina has won 10 of her last 12 matches.

Highlights: Saville def. Teichmann

Qualifier Daria Saville also advanced on Monday, beating Jil Teichmann 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-2. Former World No.20 Saville has been hindered by injuries over the past few years, but she has reached two quarterfinals this year and is on the brink of returning to the Top 100.

More to come…

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