The biggest result of Thursday in the initial session of play at the Rome Open was the ouster of 13th seed Karolina Pliskova. Hungarian Anna Bondar, who qualified for the main draw took out the former world no. 1, 7-6(5), 6-2 in an hour and 23 minutes in their second-round match.
Pliskova who’d reached three consecutive finals in the Italian tournament from 2019-2021 and had won the event in 2019, struggled to win points on her second serve. She won only five of 20 points played on her second serve while Bondar won 14 of 23 points played on her second serve.
Pliskova failed to save four of the five break points she faced while converting two of four break points on Bondar’s serve. All four break points the latter faced came in the first set. Another seed who lost her opening-round match was Romanian 31st seed, Irina-Camelia Begu.
Xiyu Wang beat Begu 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 48 minutes. Wang won 78% of her first-serve points to Begu’s 72% and 54% of her second-serve points. She also won 58% points on return on the latter’s second serve. Wang converted four break points while saving two of four break points herself.
Rome Open: Coco Gauff soars
Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka made it to the third round with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Sloane Stephens. Across both sets, Stephens led in the proceedings but finished second as the former no. 1 got her game going.
Coming into the match, Stephens had been the in-form player after having won a WTA 125k tournament in France, the week prior. The match saw multiple breaks of serve but Azarenka’s 25 winners that were almost twice as that of her opponent’s 13 saw her through.
Stephens’ compatriot, Coco Gauff, however, showed quite a dominant game to win her opener at the Rome Open. The sixth seed wrapped up a 6-0, 6-1 win against Yulia Putintseva in a minute shy of an hour. Gauff lost only two points on her first serve and won 10 of 13 points played on the Kazakh’s second serve.
She converted five break points while her dominant serving didn’t see her serve come under threat even once across the match.