WIMBLEDON - Donna Vekic stuns Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams moves on



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WIMBLEDON - Donna Vekic stuns Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams moves on

Darriet Hart came close to seal a big upset on the Court 12. Karolina Pliskova needed three sets to move to the second round at Wimbledon. She beat the Brit prospect 7-6(2) 2-6 6-1 and despite her hugely lackaidaisical approach, she now requires just a win to reach her best result at Wimbledon.

Dart, whose mother is an All England Club member, suffered a horrible fall midway through the second set, while leading 4-1 but maintained her composure and made Pliskova work for everything. In her maiden match against a Top 100 opponent, she played far above her usual level and saved a set point in the opening tiebreak but she could only clip a Karolina Pliskova return long on the second.

After a long medical time-out, Dart continued to focus on her strategy and managed to win on her first serve. In the end, the former world No.1 found depth and drive on serve and forehand to reach the second round. She will met Vika Azarenka who completed a 7-6(4) 6-3 win over the Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova on court 18.

The former world No.1 suffered an awkward fall early on in the match, but managed to avoid the maiden first round loss at Wimbledon since she made her debut here in 2006. On the grass exceptionally higher than usual to counter the effects of the unexpected hot weather, Azarenka fell once again in the final set, her heavily-strapped right leg giving way underneath her, but she rallied to close out the match one hour and 49 minutes.

Donna Vekic claimed her third Top 10 win as she beat Sloane Stephens, entering the tournament with outside chances to claim the No.1 ranking. The American, who came from a set down to win the only career meeting at 2016 Strasbourg, offered a below-par performance against the Croat whose game suits grass much better.

Vekic, who played two WTA finals on grass and produced here in the second round one of the best matches in 2017 losing to Konta 10-8 in the third, claimed a routine 6-1 6-3 win and sealed her third main draw victory at Wimbledon.

The Croat, making her fifth main draw appearance here, celebrated her 22 nd birthday last Thursday and gave herself as a present the maiden Top 5 win, the fourth in 15 matches against seeded opponents in Grand Slams, with wins coming against No.21 seed Vinci (2014 Wimbledon), No.31 seed Garcia (2015 Roland Garros) and No.22 S.Peng (2017 US Open).

Stephens, the 2013 quarter-finalist, played her best tennis in the final game as she saved three match points and reached game point. But when Vekic found a phenomenal down the line backhand, the American resigned to the eighth first-round loss at Grand Slam level in her career.

Stephens double faulted and netted an easy forehand to give Vekic an easy win. "I always try to out there and be aggressive" she said in the on court interview. "I am happy to get through and hopefully I can continue it in the next match.

I have played all the tournaments on grass so I feel good. There are no easy opponents so it's only going to get tougher from here." No.10 seed Madison Keys, in her first match under the new coach David Taylor, needed just over an hour to beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-2 and extend to six matches her unbeaten run in first-round matches at Wimbledon.

“It’s always tough to play someone that you know pretty well, but also you have your first round nerves too so it’s a weird combination,” said Keys, playing her first grass court event of the season, in her on-court interview.

The 2015 quarterfinalist (l. A.Radwanska) has not lost in the first-round in her last 16 appearances at majors. Keys, one of eight active players who have won multiple grass court titles, hasn't lost to a player ranked outside Top 60 since her defeat to No.129 Sorribes Tormo in the first-round in Madrid earlier this year.

No.9 Venus Williams, playing with a sleeve on her right forearm, had to show her fighting spirit to avoid her third grand slam first-round exit in a row. The oldest woman to advance to the final at the All England Club since 1994 beat Johanna Larsson 6-7(3) 6-2 6-1 and collected her 88th win at Wimbledon.

Venus dropped the opening set to Johanna Larsson 7-3 in the tiebreak. The five time champion had had to battle hard in the early stages and saved a couple of set points in the twelfth game. But Larsson managed to hit two winners more than Venus, 10-8, and won her third set in eight career main draw appearances here. But she managed to win three more games and Venus avoided the 11th first-round loss at Grand Slam level.

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