WTA Cincinnati: Maria Sakkari eases past Cori Gauff. Alexandrova edges Rybakina

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WTA Cincinnati: Maria Sakkari eases past Cori Gauff. Alexandrova edges Rybakina

Kristina Mladenovic made an early exit in the first tournament after the coronavirus outbreak in Palermo, fixing that in New York to reach the second round. Kristina took down Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes, beating the Latvian for the second straight time.

Both players struggled to find the first serve and it Mladenovic who drew more from that, fending off three out of five break chances and delivering five breaks to control the scoreboard. Fending off two break chances in the second game, Mladenovic seized momentum, securing breaks in games three and nine for a 6-3.

The French player grabbed the first four games in the second set, taking nine of the previous 11 before losing ground out of sudden, allowing Anastasija to draw the result back to 4-4. Staying calm, Kristina clinched eight of the final nine points to push herself over the top.

After taking a set from Serena Williams in Lexington, Bernarda Pera is through to the second round of Cincinnati, defeating Heather Watson 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in an hour and 44 minutes. Firing 13 aces, Bernarda did lose serve three times but her return worked nicely in sets one and three, securing five breaks and crossing the finish line first.

The opening two sets were fluid and they barely lasted for an hour, with Pera securing the first with a double break. In the only loose return game of the second set, Heather clinched an early break in game two that she kept until the end with a perfect serving, setting a decider where they traded four breaks in the first six games.

Trailing 3-2, Bernarda made one last push, rattling off four straight games to find herself over the top. Ekaterina Alexandrova prevailed against the 9th seed Elena Rybakina 7-5, 7-6 in an hour and 37 minutes, winning nine points more than the Kazakh.

Maria Sakkari lost only four games against Cori Gauff.

From 5-2 down, Elena came back to 5-5 in the first set, only to lose the next two games and hand the set to the Russian. There were no breaks in set number two and Rybakina had a massive chance to force a decider, leading 6-4 in the tie break before Ekaterina won four straight points to erase those and propel herself into the second round.

The 13th seed Maria Sakkari ousted the youngest player in the draw Cori Gauff 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and five minutes, beating the young American in their first meeting. Passing some tough obstacles in Lexington en route to the semis, Gauff couldn't repeat that in New York, struggling with her forehand and return and never finding the rhythm to challenge the better-ranked opponent.

With six winners and 24 unforced errors, Cori stood no chance against the more experienced rival, losing almost half of the points behind the initial shot and allowing Sakkari to convert that into four breaks. On the other hand, the Greek fended off the only break point she played against, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net and moving through in style.

Cori sprayed a backhand error in the second game to give serve away, not feeling the ball and falling 5-1 down following a loose forehand. Sakkari secured the set with a service winner in game seven, moving further in front with a break at 1-1 in the second.

Serving to stay in the match at 3-5, Gauff got broken to hit the exit door and send her rival through.