Wta Prague: Petra Kvitova makes a winning debut

In her first match in Prague, she beats Tereza Smitkova. Krystina Pliskova moves to the second round. Defending champion Mona Barthel loses to Antonia Lottner.

by Alessandro Mastroluca
Wta Prague: Petra Kvitova makes a winning debut

Petra Kvitova easily completed her 67th career win on clay as she beat for the third time in thee clashes, always in straight sets, Tereza Smitkova. The world No.10, the highest-ranked player in the draw after Karolina Pliskova withdrew yesterday, saved both the break points conceded and closed the match 61 63.

Smitkova, ranked No.229, playing her first WTA main draw match of the season, offered a stern resistance in the second set. But she surrendered to her 17th defeat against a lefty opponent, the 35th in 55 meetings against a Top 100 player.

Kvitova will now face Natalia Vikhlyantseva to celebrate her first appearance in Prague clinching the third quarter-final of the season. Defending champion Mona Barthel surprisingly conceded the second bagel of the season in her 60 75 loss against German qualifier Antonia Lottner who claimed her maiden WTA main draw win since Luxembourg last October.

Lottner, who won 14 of her last 18 meetings against a lefty opponent, will face for the first time the seventh seed Mihaela Buzarnescu. Last year's finalist Krystina Pliskova avoided the clash against her twin-sister, the worst possible match-up for both, and defeated No.9 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovitch 76 63.

The Czech served 12 aces and extended to 3-1 her tiebreak record this season against the Belarusian, who had never lost in the first round so far in 2018. Pliskova claimed her tenth WTA career win on clay and will meet for the first time Qiang Wang to seal a berth in the third quarter-final of the year.

Camila Giorgi reached her 108th career WTA win as she beat No.5 seed Barbora Strycova 60 26 62. The Italian No.1 now awaits Tamara Korpatsch, lucky loser for the second time in the last 12 months, who won just once in her last seven meetings against a top 10 opponent.

Giorgi will aim to celebrate her 100th career victory on clay and the third consecutive quarter-final in Prague. Giorgi completed the second 6-0 of the year and wreaked havoc against the world No.6, always beaten in 2018 (0-7) after losing the first set.

Strycova forced a decider, bidding for her 68th win on clay but the Italian called her father and coach on-court and he remembered her the importance of being aggressive and precise with her deep groundstrokes. She immediately applied his suggestions breaking three times, and completed the 99th victory against a Top 100 player.

Italian lucky loser Jasmine Paolini won her second career WTA main draw match on Tuesday, upsetting No.3 seed Daria Kasatkina, 7-6(6), 6-3 to collect her maiden Top 20 win in her career. The Russian, however, struggled with a lefth thigh injury in the last part of the match.

"It's incredible, biggest win of my career," Paolini said after the match. "I had to stay focused in the end as I saw she was injured. I knew I had to keep the level of my play and stay focused." Up next for the 22-year-old is Claro Open Colsanitas champion Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who won her first title in nearly two years in Bogota to return to the Top 100.


Petra Kvitova Tereza Smitkova Mona Barthel