WTA Birmingham: Pliskova and Konta win. Svitolina and Mladenovic bow out



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WTA Birmingham: Pliskova and Konta win. Svitolina and Mladenovic bow out

World no. 76 Evgeniya Rodina is through to the second round in Birmingham, defeating Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in an hour and 48 minutes. Both players created ten break chances and it was the Russian who used them more efficiently, dominating in set number one and playing better in the closing stages of the encounter when she broke in games eight and ten to book the place in the second round.

Another Russian Margarita Gasparyan toppled the 4th seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in an hour and 53 minutes, using the fact the Ukrainian is still not at her best after a knee injury that has ruined her season so far.

Gasparyan won five points more than Svitolina, scoring one extra break in comparison to her rival after they both had 12 break chances. Margarita earned three breaks in the opener and Elina responded in the same way in set number two, gathering the momentum ahead of the decider where she fell 4-1 down.

Gasparyan suffered a break in game six but still had enough fuel to bring the match home with a hold in game ten. An in-form Johanna Konta had to skip Nottingham after reaching the semi-final at Roland Garros, opening grass swing with a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Anett Kontaveit in 72 minutes.

Johanna lost 16 points behind the initial shot, fending off two out of three break points and taking 45% of the return points for four breaks. Konta broke in games five and nine in the opener, closing it with a hold at love in game ten for a 6-4 and dominating in set number two to sail into the next round.

Su-Wei Hsieh took down the struggling Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 in just under two hours, winning four points more than her rival and coming from a 4-2 deficit in the decider to cross the finish line with a strong performance in the tie break.

Barbora Strycova defeated Heather Watson 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in grueling two hours and 30 minutes while the 3rd seed Karolina Pliskova ousted Mihaela Buzarnescvu 6-3, 6-4 in swift 69 minutes. The Czech fired 11 aces and never faced a break point, converting one chance on the return in each set to move into the second round, happy with the way she performed in the opening clash.