Yulia Putintseva came from a set down to defeat top-seeded Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in a match played over two days in the first round of the Nuremberg Cup. Their match has been suspended due to darkness at 3-3 in the final set on Tuesday after the American had gained a 2-0 lead in the final set.
The Kazakh, beaten in their lone previous clash at Toronto last year, went on to complete her fifth win against a top 10 opponent. With nine breaks from 12 looks, Putintseva clinched the second comeback win of the season.
Despite winning 24% of second serve points, Putintseva claimed 73% of second delivery return points and maintained an excellent 9-1 win-loss record in final set tiebreaks. The Kazakh player was due to face another American, Alison Riske, in the second round, for the fifth time in her career.
However, rain came down again to force further delays. They are tied 2-2 in previous clashes, with Putintseva clinching the most recent meeting, and the only match on clay, in Rabat two years ago in the first round. The sixth-seeded Sorana Cirstea defeated Madison Brengle of the United States 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to book her place in the first quarterfinal of the season.
The No.6 seed faced the American for the first time in seven years, since their last encounter on the Midland hard court that saw the American triumphant in three sets. Cirstea completed 8 breaks from 11 looks and claimed 71% of second serve points to complete the 68th career WTA win on clay, Kirsten Flipkens, a beaten doubles finalist last year with Johanna Larsson, defeated Nadia Podoroska 7-6 (6), 6-2 in their first career meeting.
She will next face two-time champion Kiki Bertens or Mona Barthel. The German leads her head-to-head with Bertens 9-3, but the Dutchwoman won their most recent match, at Wimbledon in 2016.