Bad Homburg: No. 1 seed Maria Sakkari, two other big names suffer 1R losses

It wasn't a great day for Sakkari and some other big names in Bad Homburg on Monday.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Bad Homburg: No. 1 seed Maria Sakkari, two other big names suffer 1R losses
© Getty Images Sport - Inaki Esnaola

No. 1 seed Maria Sakkari's Bad Homburg campaign finished very early after the Greek tennis star lost to world No. 96 Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the first round. 

Sakkari, 28, was making her debut in Bad Homburg on Monday. But even though Sakkari was the top seed and one of the top favorites for the title, it wasn't a memorable debut after her run at the tournament finished very early. 

On Monday, Sakkari was scheduled to meet 41st-ranked Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the first round but that didn't match after the Italian withdrew before the match started. On paper, world No. 96 Niemeier was an easier opponent but still Sakkari ended up concluding her Bad Homburg campaign in the first round after the German lucky loser handed the top-seeded Greek a 2-6 6-2 7-6 (4) loss. 

After world No. 9 Sakkari exited Bad Homburg, the tournament lost another big name after early after home favorite and 2021 Bad Homburg champion Kerber lost to rising Russian star Diana Shnaider. Playing against three-time Grand Slam champion Kerber for the first time, 20-year-old Shnaider registered a 7-5 6-3 win. 

For Kerber, this was her first appearance in Bad Homburg since 2022 and returning to tennis as a mother.

After Sakkari and Kerber, one more big name finished its Bad Homburg campaign very early after 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu also suffered a shock loss. Andreescu, who was the Bad Homburg runner-up in 2022, picked up a surprise defeat in the first round after 66th-ranked Anna Blinkova dismantled her with a 6-4 6-2 scoreline.

How Sakkari got upset by Niemeier in her Bad Homburg opener?

At the start of the match, there were no surprises as Sakkari claimed breaks in the first and seventh games to open a pretty comfortable double-break 5-2 lead. Serving for the first set in the eighth game, Sakkari faced first break points but Niemeier didn't get a break as the Greek saved two break points before realizing her fourth set point in that game.

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Inaki Esnaola
 

Down by a set, Niemeier started playing better and the German lucky loser got her first break of the match in the fourth game before also saving a break point in the following game to go 4-1 up. Leading 5-2, Niemeier got the job done in the second after breaking Sakkari for the second time in the second set.

When the third set started, Niemeier missed out on an early break point but still led 3-2 without any breaks. Then in the next four games, four breaks in a row were seen as the German was twice up by a break but the top-seeded Greek twice recovered and the top seed also saved a match point in the 12th game on her serve. 

At that point, it looked like a big Sakkari comeback would happen. But Niemeier didn't panic as she managed to open a 6-4 lead in the tie-break - convert her second match point - and complete a big upset win over Sakkari.

How Shnaider ousted Kerber?

Kerber's return to Bad Homburg was highly anticipated and the crowd came out to support the three-time Grand Slam champion but it didn't start well for the German after Shnaider claimed the first break in the eighth game to go 5-3 up. On the verge of losing the first set, Kerber didn't quit and she managed save two set points on Shnaider's serve in the ninth game, as well as another set point on her serve in the 10th game. 

Angelique Kerber
Angelique Kerber © Getty Images Sport - Inaki Esnaola
 

But after working hard to get back into the first set, Kerber blew it all after dropping her serve again in the 12th game - the game in which the former world No. 1 was serving to stay in the opener. 

After losing the first set in a devastating way, Kerber also lost her serve early in the second set but managed to get the break back instantly in the third game. Unfortunately for the German, her woes on her serve continued as the 20-year-old Russian got another break in the eighth game before routinely serving out for a two-set win in the following game.

How Blinkova ousted Andreescu?

After breaking Andreescu in the first game of the match, Blinkova got broken back in the sixth game but broke Andreescu again in the seventh game to again go up by a break. But this time, Blinkova made sure to hold to her serve and that's how the Russian went up by a set.

Bianca Andreescu
Bianca Andreescu © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney
 

In the second set, Andreescu managed to twice break Blinkova. But that was far from enough because the Canadian dropped her serve four times and Blinkova went on to complete her two-set win.

In the next match, Blinkova plays against world No. 20 Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Maria Sakkari
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