04 August 2020

Kristyna Pliskova and Jasmine Paolini storm into second round of Palermo Open

Kristyna Pliskova secured a spot in the second round of the Palermo Open as the WTA Tour returned from the coronavirus pandemic.

The 28 year-old won 6-4 6-4 against Maria Sakkari of Greece in 87 minutes of play, winning 81 per cent of points off her first serve.

It was not the first time the pair had met as Sakkari sealed victory over the Czech at Wimbledon back in 2017.

The match lasted into the early hours of Tuesday morning and finished at around 2am.  

In a post-match interview, Pliskova said: "The conditions were really tough. The body is not used to playing at 2:00 a.m. But I think my serve was there, like almost always, and it helped me quite a lot.

"I think of course she didn’t play her best today, like she’s playing normally on clay, but I was solid."

Next up for Pliskova is a meeting with two-time Palermo champion Sara Errani on Wednesday. 

Elsewhere, Italy’s Jasmine Paolini sealed victory in the first round of the event against former top ten player Daria Kasatkina. 

The 24 year-old won 5-7 6-4 6-4 in Sicily despite the Russian having won two of their previous three encounters.

Paolini said: "It means a lot. [It] was so emotional, because it’s in Italy, the first match, against Kasatkina. So, I’m very, very happy."

The world No. 95 converted 11 of her 16 break points and will face either Elise Mertens or qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the next round. 

Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova came from a set down to defeat Kristina Mladenovic.

After just over two hours of play the 25-year-old won 5-7 6-0 6-1 to secure her spot in the second round of the event. 

Alexandrova made six double faults in the first set but turned things around to produce just one double fault in the next two sets.

Alexandrova told the WTA: "It feels really great [being back on court] because it was such a long wait, and it felt really special.

"But the first match, it was quite tough because I was so nervous and my serve in the first set was just awful. Thankfully in the second and third it was much better."

She is now set to play either Fiona Ferro or qualifier Nadia Podoroska next.

Croatian Donna Vekic stormed into the second round of the tournament after beating Arantxa Rus in straight sets, 6-1 6-2.

After her win, the world No. 24 said: "I ’m definitely a little bit surprised [at the score]. It was very tricky conditions, it was very windy so the ball was a little bit all over the court. 

"I’m just definitely happy that I didn’t forget how to play tennis, how to play matches, how to win. It’s a huge relief."

She will next play Polona Hercog or wildcard contender Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

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