Bad Homburg | Niemeier stuns Sakkari, but Samsonova and Haddad Maia get off the mark

At the WTA 250 Bad Homburg Open on Monday, Jule Niemeier stunned top-seed Maria Sakkari, while Diana Shnaider upset another local favourite, Angelique Kerber, but Liudmilla Samsonova and Beatriz Haddad Maia both advanced safely enough into round 2.

Niemeier, a Germany lucky loser ranked 98 in the world, replaced Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the draw just 30 minutes prior to the match, after the Italian withdrew due to illness, and recorded her 4th career win over a Top 10 player when she rallied for a 2-6 6-2 7-6(4) upset win over Sakkari, the World No 9 from Greece.

Despite her slow start, Niemeier’s game began clicking as she scored on 22 of 36 of her second-serve return opportunities, an impressive 61.1%, against Sakkari, who has now dropped her last 4 matches.

The Greek claimed breaks in the 1st and 7th games to open up a pretty comfortable double-break 5-2 lead, and she only faced her first break points when she served for the first set, but Niemeier failed to convert as Sakkari saved 2 before capturing the set on her 4th chance.

Niemeier started playing better in the second, getting her first break of the match in the 4th game before saving a break point in the following game to go 4-1 up.

Leading 5-2, the German broke for the second time to level the match at a set apiece.

In the decider, Niemeier missed an early chance, but stayed ahead 3-2 on serve, before the next 4 games saw 4 breaks in a row, with Sakkari fighting to save a match point in the 12th game on her own serve.

Sakkari looked to be making a come-back as matters entered the match tiebreak, where Niemeier held her nerve and managed to open a 6-4 lead, before converting on her 2nd match point to complete a big upset win after 2 hours and 34 minutes on the court.


20-year old Diana Shnaider got the better of 3-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber on Day 1 at Bad Homburg

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With the departure of the World No 9, the tournament lost another big name when 2021 Bad Homburg champion Angelique Kerber lost to the rising Russian, Diana Shnaider.

Playing against the 3-time Grand Slam champion for the first time, the 20-year-old registered a convincing 7-5 6-3 win.

This was Kerber’s first appearance in Bad Homburg since 2022, having returned to tennis as a mother, and the match was highly anticipated, but the home crowd were to be disappointed when Shnaider claimed the first break in the 8th game to go 5-3 up.

On the verge of losing the first set, Kerber managed to save 2 set points on the Russian’s serve, as well as another on her own serve in the 10th game, but, having working hard to get back into contention, the German then blew it by dropping her serve again in the 12th as she tried to stay in the opener.

Kerber then lost her serve again early in the second, but managed to get it back immediately, only for her woes to continue on her delivery as the young Russian applied return pressure and was rewarded by yet another, before routinely serving out the win in the following game.

Shnaider, who reached the quarter-finals last week in Birmingham, struck 31 winners to her 16 unforced errors during her 1 hour and 18 minutes on court.

The Russian will next face Australian Open semi-finalist Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine, who upset No 8 seed and Roland Garros semi-finalist Mirra Andreeva, another young Russian, on Sunday.

The loss drops Kerber to 7-13 this season since her return from maternity leave, and the former World No 1 is just 1-5 since reaching the 4th round of Indian Wells in March, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki.


No 4 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia defeated lucky loser Tamara Korpatsch In straight sets on Monday in Bad Homburg

© Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Haddad Maia, the 4th seed from Brazil, survived a stern test from another German lucky loser, Tamara Korpatsch, before advancing with a 6-1 7-6(6) win, and will next face Anna Blinkova from Russia, who came through 6-4 6-2 over wild-card Bianca Andreescu, the former US Open champion playing the third tournament of her come-back from a back injury, in an error-strewn 75 minutes.

The Brazilian, who lost her first grass-court match of the season to Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova last week in Berlin, had not dropped a set to Korpatsch in 3 previous meetings, and just about preserved that perfect record against the World No 75.

Showing great touch at net, Haddad Maia controlled the match for much of the first 2 sets, but then Korpatsch began to get a foothold with a series of precise down-the-line winners, and saved 3 match points, one down 5-4 and two more down 6-5, to force a second-set tiebreak in which the Brazilian advanced to a 6-2 lead.

A medical emergency in the crowd necessitated a 20-minute stoppage, and, on resumption, Korpatsch promptly saved another 4 match points to level at 6-6 in the breaker, but Haddad Maia was able to recover, finding a pair of strong winners to close out the win on her 8th match point.


2nd-seeded Liudmila Samsonova was an easy winner over Sara Sorribes Tormo on Day 1 of the WTA 250 event in Germany

© Inaki Esnaola/Getty Images

Her next opponent, Blinkova, broke Andreescu in the first game of their match, but got broken back in the 6th game, only to break again before ensuring she held onto her serve and rode out the set.

In the second, the Canadian managed to break Blinkova twice, but that was far from enough because Andreescu dropped her own 4 four times, and the Russian moved on to complete her two-set win.

Second-seeded Liudmila Samsonova from Russia rolled to a 6-3 6-1 victory over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, while among the other winners on Monday were two Czechs, Katerina Siniakova, with a 6-3 6-(7) 6-1 win over France’s Clara Burel, and Linda Noskova, 7-5 6-1, against American lucky loser Taylor Townsend.


Caroline Wozniacki took a nasty tumble in her match against Elina Svitolina on Monday evening, which was then suspended overnight at 1-1 in the decider

© Paul Harding/Getty Images for LTA

The marquee match of Day 1 between Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki was suspended due to darkness, with Svitolina leading 3-6 7-6(4), 2-1, and it will be resumed on Tuesday.

Shortly before play was halted, Wozniacki needed an off-court medical timeout after taking a tumble on the grass-court surface in Svitolina’s 1-1 service game, where she held from 0-30.

The Ukrainian had previously extended the match in a second set that lasted nearly twice as long as the first after her 4-1 lead had evaporated. The first set saw 5 combined breaks of serve.

The 1st-round match is the second meeting between the two former Top 10 players, and two of the Hologic WTA Tour’s touring moms, after Svitolina won in straight sets in Auckland in January.


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