Prague | Niemeier stops Watson as more seeds tumble

Britain’s Heather Watson was among the names to fall at the first hurdle at the Livesport Prague Open on Tuesday, while seeds Linda Noskova and Alizé 6 advanced to the 2nd-round of the WTA 250 hard court event.

Germany’s Jule Niemeier needed only 69 minutes to swiftly dispatch Watson, 6-2 6-3, exacting revenge for the defeat she suffered at the hands of the Brit at the recent Nottingham Open.

In fact, Watson led their head-to-head record 2-1 going into this encounter but she squandered 3 break chances in the opening game.

The 31-year-old, who made it into the quarter-finals in Warsaw last week, paid a heavy price for not capitalising, as Niemeier broke Watson for a 3-1 lead, and won 85% of her first-serve points to keep the Briton at bay, ultimately breaking her once again in the 8th on her 3rd set point.

Although the German immediately went up a break in the second, Watson drew level at 2-2, now cutting out the double-faults that had plagued her in the opener.

A flurry of aces from Niemeier, though, kept Watson at bay, and the World No 101 broke for the 4th time to move ahead 5-3, before converting her 2nd match point, and setting up a 2nd-round tie with Ukrainian 8th seed Kateryna Baindl.

Yanina Wickmayer upset No 2 seed Lin Zhu in 3 sets at the WTA 250 event in Prague

© Benoit Doppagne/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

A day after the top seed, Marie Bouzkova, lost in the 1st-round, 2nd-seeded Lin Zhu from China was upset by Yanina Wickmayer, 1-6 6-4 6-2, after 2 hours and 17 minutes.

The 33-year old Belgian, who reached the semi-finals of the Warsaw Open last week, could only take a lone game in the first set as Zhu won 80% of her first-serve points, and converted 4 break points while dropping her serve just the once.

Wickmayer, though, then upped her first-serve points won to 68% in the second, and 76% in the decider, which proved critical alongside the 52% points won on returning Zhu’s first serve, and the 56% off her second delivery.

Across the latter two sets, Wickmayer dropped 2 break points out of the 7 she faced, both in the second set, but, in the third, she saved all 3 break points as she romped home.

It was the first Top 50 win for the Belgian since 2017, and came after Wickmayer pushed but lost to top-ranked Iga Swiatek last week.

The Belgian is a former World No 12 now ranked 93, who won 2 ITF $100,000 titles in Trnava, Slovak Republic and Surbiton, Great Britain in May and June respectively.

Wickmayer will play the German qualifier, Tamara Korpatsch, in round 2.

4th-seeded Linda Noskova had little difficulty getting past qualifier Elvina Kalieva on Tuesday in Prague

Livesport Prague Open/Pavel Lebeda

Meanwhile, 18-year old Noskova, the Czech 4th seed, sailed into the 2nd-round with an easy 6-1 6-2 win over American qualifier, Elvina Kalieva, and awaits the winner of the match held over from Tuesday between her compatriot Barbora Strycova and Indian lucky loser Ankita Raina.

Among the other seeds who played on Tuesday, only Shuai Zhang lost her opener, to the No 3 seed’s fellow Chinese, Yue Yuan, who posted a 6-2 6-2 win over the 34-year-old in 71 minutes.

6th-seeded Cornet from France needed 3 sets to get past Czech wild-card Lucie Havlickova, 6-2 4-6 6-2, while Xiyu Wang, the 9th seed from China, advanced after dispatching Denmark’s Clara Tauson, 6-3 6-2.

In other Tuesday results in Prague, Estonian Kaia Kanepi was a 6-2 6-3 winner over Italy’s Lucretia Stefanini; Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia dispatched Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig, 6-2 6-2; wild-card Tereza Martincova fought her way past fellow Czech qualifier Gabriela Knutson, 2-6 6-4 6-4; and Emiliana Arango, a Colombian qualifier, took out another Czech wild-card, Barbora Palicova, 6-3 6-2.

Kaia Kanepi beat Lucrezia Stefanini to meet Alizé Cornet, seeded 6, in round 2

Livesport Prague Open/Pavel Lebeda



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