Miami | Giorgi outlasts Kanepi as qualifiers charge into main draw R2

Italy’s Camila Giorgi overcame Kaia Kanepi from Estonia on Tuesday in the Miami Open presented by Itaú 1st-round after 3 hours and 32 minutes, tied for the longest main-draw match of the WTA season so far, while qualifiers marched past direct entries to complete the running in round 2 for the top half of the WTA 1000 draw.

She [Daria Kasatkina] has a very good forehand and she can get a lot of balls back. She's number eight seed for a reason. I'm just going to try to focus on myself. Elise Mertens

Giorgi held off Kanepi, 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-6(4), equalling last month’s epic between Erika Andreeva and Harriet Dart in Austin, Texas.

Dart, the British No 4, fell in the 2nd-round of qualifying on Monday when she lost to Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, 7-6(4) 6-2, narrowly missing the cut for the main Miami draw.

This latest marathon match saw Giorgi overcoming 14 double-faults and blowing a 5-0 lead in the final set before pulling out a 3 tiebreak win over Kanepi, who fired 19 aces against her 7 double-faults.

In fact, the two combined for 30 aces across the 3 sets and, by the decider, Kanepi was not moving well as Giorgi raced out to her big lead, appearing in complete control, but, after dropping just 2 of her initial 15 service games, the Italian got broken twice in a row while serving for the win at 5-1 and 5-3.

Kanepi is a veteran of the tour, aged 37 and a former World No 15, who is renowned for her tenacity and tendency to become a giant-killer at the big events.

Giorgi, too, is a dangerous floater in any draw, now aged 33 and ranked 44, and it took all her grit to edge past the Estonian, finally ending things on her next chance with a cross-court forehand winner.

She will next face 14th-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, a 3-time champion in Miami and 2-time winner of the Australian Open, who received a 1st-round bye alongside all the other seeded players in the draw.

Laura Siegemund, who won the doubles title in Miami last year and reached the doubles final at Indian Wells last week, qualified for the main draw and beat Mayer Sharif to advance to round 2 on Tuesday

© Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Meanwhile, dangerous qualifiers flourished in round 1, with only 1 out of 7 in action on Tuesday bowing out – Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who was beaten 7-5 6-2 by Bulgarian Lucky Loser Viktorija Tomova; while Nao Hibino from Japan took out the Montenegrin Danka Kovinic, 6-3 6-3, Sweden’s Mirjam Bjorklund prevailed against Italian Jasmine Paolini, 4-6 6-4 6-4, and Czech Tereza Martincova found her way past Tamara Korpatsch from Germany, 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Another German, Laura Siegemund was a 6-3 6-4 winner over Egyptian Mayer Sharif, while Victorija Golubic from Switzerland saw off American wild-card Hailey Baptiste, 7-6(6) 6-1, and Canada’s Katherine Sebov fought her way past Czech Linda Fruhvirtova, 6-2 4-6 6-4.

17-year old Fruhvirtova was a heavy favourite against the 24-year old Canadian, but she was pushed all around the court with ease in the first set by Sebov and, although the second one went the way of the Czech, she somewhat fell apart in the decider.

Both struggled with their serve, with Sebov saving only 3 out of 9 break points, while Fruhvirtova saved 4 out of 12 and was broken 8 times in the match.

Fruhvirtova is one of two talented Czech sisters, the other, Brenda, who turns 16 on 2 April, lost the initial 9 games of a 6-0 7-5 loss to Wang Xiyu from China.

Wang edged past the 15-year-old in an hour and 51 minutes after racing out to a 6-0, 3-0 lead with 4 breaks of serve, but she had to hold off a spirited come-back from the younger Fruhvirtova, who pulled back on serve to draw level at 3-3.

The Chinese World No 58 outclassed the teenager for the first half-hour of the match but, like older sister Linda, the young Czech ranked 142 is gaining a reputation as a battler, and she locked down her groundstrokes on defence while sprinkling in drop-shots to end points on her terms, prompting a rattled Wang to double-fault to hand a break back.

The closing stages were tightly contested, and Fruhvirtova held a point to force a tiebreak, but Wang pulled through, finishing a 24-stroke rally with a forehand winner to convert her first match point and set up a 2nd-round clash with No 29 seed Petra Martic from Croatia.

Elise Mertens saw off Alycia Parks to set up a 2nd-round meeting with Daria Kasatkina, the 8th seed, in Miami

© Christopher Pike/Getty Images

Claire Liu, an American who is ranked 59th, advanced to a 2nd-round meeting against defending champion and World No 1 Iga Swiatek from Poland after Katerina Siniakova, the Czech World Doubles No 1, stopped playing in the second set because of an injured wrist.

Elsewhere, Belgian Elise Mertens brushed aside American Alycia Parks, 6-1 6-4, to set up a 2nd-round contest with 8th-seed Daria Kasatkina from Russia.

Mertens, a 3-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, put her net skills to good use to see off Parks and set up a meeting with the crafty Kasatkina.

“She has a very good forehand and she can get a lot of balls back,” Mertens said. “She’s number eight seed for a reason. I’m just going to try to focus on myself.”

In other Tuesday action, Canadian Rebecca Marino eliminated Yulia Putintseva from Kazakstan, 7-6(4) 6-2, to set up a 2nd-round match against 2022 French Open finalist Coco Gauff.

Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu came back from 1-5 down in the second set, and saved 5 set points to beat reigning US Open junior champion Alexandra Eala, 6-2 7-5, in 1 hour and 51 minutes.

Begu went down an early break in the first set to trail 0-2, but she came back by winning 6 consecutive games to clinch it, before Eala, a wild-card entry, went up an early break to take a 2-0 lead in the second, but the Romanian broke straight back to love in the 3rd game.

Eala won 3 consecutive games with 2 breaks of serve to earn her first set point serving at 5-1, but Begu pulled a game back for 3-5 with a forehand winner into the corner, and then converted her 5th break point in a 8-deuce 9th game for 4-5.

The Romanian earned her 3rd break and completed her come-back by winning her 6th consecutive game from 1-5 down to close out the match.

The Hard Rock Stadium in Florida is hosting the Miami Open presented by Itaú this week

© Al Bello/Getty Images

In other 1st-round results, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, this year’s Austin champion, was a 6-3 6-2 winner over Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

Kostyuk earned her 4th break point to take a 3-1 lead, and saved 3 break points in the 7th game to win the first set before breaking twice in the second to win through.

Russian Anna Kalinskaya came back from a break down in the first set to beat Andorran 17-year-old wild-card Victoria Jimenez, 6-4 6-2, setting up a 2nd-round match against last week’s Indian Wells champion, Elena Rybakina.



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