Mona Barthel made it third time lucky in Gstaad. After two straight first-round losses in the last two years, the German collected her maiden main draw win at the 2018 Ladies Championships Gstaad by Ixion Services. Barthel went 0-3 down in the opening set but managed to complete a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win in her first meeting against Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva.
The former top-25 lefty German, currently ranked No.118, hit seven aces and clinched five breaks of serve to beat Vikhlyantseva. "So I knew I had to be serving well, moving well and getting a lot of balls back, and that was what I was trying to do" WTA quoted Barthel to say.
Not affected by the transition from the grass of Great Britain to the clay court in Gstaad where the conditions are a bit different because of the altitude, Barthel won five straight games from 0-3 and easily held at love to seal the opening set.
Barthel, who finished the match with eight easy service holds, was the first to break in the second set. She moved 2-1 up with a massive return winner but she gave world No.103 Vikhlyantseva the opportunity to level at 3-3 and overcame her to 5-3 following some poorly-timed unforced errors.
The Russian won five games in a row but in the decider Barthel rushed to gain a 4-1 lead and seales the win after the last forehand error by the Russian. She will meet either No.4 seed Carina Witthoeft or Evgeniya Rodina, one of the WTA’s playing moms, coming off her best career Grand Slam result as she reached the round 16 at Wimbledon (l.
S.Williams) and also defeated a Top 20 player (d. Keys) for the first time in her career after 15 attempts. Qualifier Veronika Kudermetova beat Jill Teichmann, currently ranked No.171, after reaching her career high of No.132 earlier this year, 6-4 1-6 6-2 in their first meeting.
The Russian completed four breaks from six looks to seal the seventh win in the last matches against lefty opponents. Playing her first WTA main draw match on clay since Stuttgart, when she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the second round, Kudermetova reinforced her status of long-distance runner completing the ninth victory in 13 three-sets played so far this season.
Now, Kudermetova awaits No.3 seed Viktoria Kuzmova or the Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan. Marketa Vondrousova won 8 of nine close games in her 6-3 6-3 victory over No.6 seed Lara Arruabarrena, who reached the second round at Wimbledon beating Ana Bogdan before falling to Hsieh Su-Wei.
"I think I played good," Vondrousova told the media, after her win, as the WTA reported on its website. "It was my second tournament on clay [in a row], and I’m very happy with my win. I think I served well, and I kept the ball in play, so that was important today." Vondrousova grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second set as Arruabarrena dropped her serve twice, but she faltered when serving for the set at 5-2 when she hit two double faults and sent a forehand wide.
But the Spaniard was broken for the third time and Vondrousova forced an error to seal the set. She raced to a 4-0 lead in the second and, again, she double faulted on break point at 4-0, handing one break back to the Spaniard.
It was, however, her final mis-step in the match. The Czech, coming off a second-round exit at the ITF tournament in Budapest, reached the round 16 on clay in Stuttgart, losing to Elina Svitolina. In the first round, she had defeated No.11 and 2011 Stuttgart champion Goerges for the loss of only four games, collecting the third Top 20 win of career.
The biggest ranking mover into the Top 100 (309 places) in 2017, Vondrousova made her WTA breakthrough by winning International-level title at Biel as a qualifier, remaining at No.233 the lowest-ranked title winner of the season.
This year, she managed to reach the round 16 on Premier Mandatory debut at Indian Wells, and moved to career-high ranking of No.50 after that run. Slipped outside the Top 100, Vondrousova will face either the Belarusian Elitsa Kostova or the Russian Anna Kalinskaya in the second round.
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