Britain’s Heather Watson and Katie Boulter scored first round wins in Monterrey and Lyon respectively, defeating Germany’s Jule Niemeier and Ana Konjuh from Croatia to advance at the Abierto GNP Seguros 2022 and the Open 6e Sens Métropole de Lyon WTA 250s tournaments on Monday.
In Monterrey, Watson, ranked 107 in the world, won 6-3 2-6 7-6(4) and will attempt to earn back-to-back matches in a WTA main draw for the first time this year when she faces Spanish 6th seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz or Japan’s Misaki Doi.
Top seed Elina Svitolina from Ukraine, however, is refusing to play Russian Anastasia Potapova in her first round match in protest of the invasion of her homeland by Russia.
She added that she will not play any Russian or Belarusian players until they are classed as ‘neutral athletes’.
Meanwhile, Potapova posted on Instagram that she never takes an opponent’s nationality into account and that professionals are now becoming ‘hostages of the current situation’.
While the WTA has removed the nationality of Russian players from its website and ranking list, the organisation has yet to comment publicly on Svitolina’s demands.
Defending Monterrey champion, Leylah Fernandez, who is ranked 21, is the 2nd seed, and opened her campaign with a 6-2 6-2 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia.
”I am really happy to be back in Monterrey, it is a very special city for me,” she said. “It is where I won my first title.
“I hope that I am able to defend my title, and I hope that I will improve, day by day, and enjoy my experience on the court like the last few years.”
The Canadian is playing just her 3rd tournament of the season, having made the Adelaide round-of-16 and then suffering a shock loss at the Australian Open in the first round.
”It motivates me as it is part of the sport, and I hope I have more opportunities to defend a title,” she added. “This is going to be my first tournament, and I hope everything will be okay but, right now, I am not thinking about that, I am focusing on enjoying my tennis.”
In other Monterrey results, in a meeting of qualifiers Viktorija Tomova from Bulgaria dispatched France’s Diane Parry, 6-4 6-0, while, in a battle of wild-cards, Mexico’s Marcella Zacarias outlasted Emma Navarro from Spain, 6-1 6-7(3) 6-3.
4th-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo, also from Spain, needed 3 sets and nearly 3 hours to get past Kamilla Rakhimova from Russia, 7-5 6-7(2) 6-1, and she now will meet French qualifier Harmony Tan, who benefitted from the retirement of another Mexican wild-card, Renata Zarazua, 6-1, 1-0 Ret.
Sorribes Tormo finished with a 71 percent to 58 percent edge in her first-serve rate.
5th seed Camila Osorio from Colombia opened her account with a 6-3 7-6(3) win over Poland’s Magdalena Frech, needing 4 match points to wrap up the second-set tiebreak, and she will take on Zacarias next.
In Lyon, two of seeds exited on the first day, with both 4th seed Alizé Cornet and 6th seed Ana Konjuh crashing out of the tournament after losing their first-round matches to Cristina Bucsa and Katie Boulter respectively.
Spanish qualifier Bucsa earned the biggest win of her career, upsetting Cornet from France, 1-6 6-4 6-1, while British qualifier Boulter felled Konjuh from Croatia, 5-7 6-0 6-3.
Bucsa, a 24-year-old who is ranked 139 in the world, had never defeated a player in the top 50, but prevailed despite registering no aces and 6 double-faults.
She also faced 15 break points, but managed to save 10 of them, as Cornet staved off just 5 of 11 break points on her serve.
In the first set, Cornet ran with the proceedings, winning 91% of her first-serve points and saving both break points she faced, while Bucsa could win only 47% of her first-serve points and lost her serve twice.
Bucsa, however, upped her level across the next 2 sets, as Cornet’s form dipped.
In the second set, Cornet could only manage to win 28% points off her first-serves and was broken on 4 occasions.
In the decider, the 2022 Australian Open quarter-finalist won 50% of her first-serve points and lost her serve twice, while Bucsa won 59% and 81% of her first-serve points in the 2nd and 3rd sets respectively as she lost her serve 3 times in the middle set.
The only break point she faced in the 3rd set, Bucsa went on to save.
For a place in the second round, Bucsa will play either Dayana Yastremska or Ana Bogdan.
Meanwhile, Boulter also came from a set down to upset Konjuh in an hour and 54 minutes.
Boulter lost her serve 3 times in the match while converting 6 of the 12 break points she had on Konjuh’s serve.
In the second round, the Briton will take on Hungarian Anna Bondar, who defeated Japanese qualifier, Yuriko Miyazaki, 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5, in 2 hours 38 minutes.
Boulter, who is the British No 4 and ranked 136 in the world as she rebuilds her career after injury, breezed through qualifying at the weekend.
Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele also advanced to the round-of-16, with a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win over French wild-card, Elsa Jacquemot.
Voegele now awaits either Georgia’s Mariam Bolkvadze or 2nd seed, Sorana Cirstea from Romania.
5th seed Jasmine Paolini from Italy also moved into the second round of the Lyon Open, coming from a set down to beat another Romanian, Irina Bara, 4-6 7-5 6-3, in 2 hours and 25 minutes.
Paolini will take on either Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch or Oceane Dodin from France next.
Meanwhile, the only player who won her match in straight sets was Russia’s Varvara Gracheva, who posted a 7-6(0) 7-6(2) win over Kristina Kucova from Slovakia.
In the second round, Gracheva will meet either Vera Zvonareva, another Russian or Alison Van Uytvanck from Belgium.