Rome | 1st-round action begins with wins for Badosa, Kerber and Bogdan

First round got underway at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Tuesday at the Foro Italico, and while the 32 seeds have all received byes, there were still some big names out on court, especially the popcorn contest between former World No 2 Paula Badosa and the precocious 17-year old Mirra Andreeva, who was making her debut at the WTA 1000 tournament in Rome.

So for me being able to play three, four more years would be amazing, and of course this year to play the full year, and achieve the highest ranking possible. I don’t like to put numbers, but I would like to be top 30 and top 10 again, would be amazing, but I think top 10 this year is too much after all. Paula Badosa

Badosa has seen her ranking drop to 126 due to the persistent back injury that has plagued her since reaching the quarter-finals here last year, while the Spaniard has also just ended her high-profile romance with Stefanos Tsitsipas this week, after a year-long relationship, so a good win was just the ticket.

After retiring injured in her 2nd-round match against Aryna Sabalenka at the Stuttgart Open last month, Badosa dropped out of the top 100, and an opening round loss to Jéssica Bouzas Maneiro at her home Madrid Open saw her slip even further down the listings.

The 26-year old is defending 215 ranking points in Rome, and securing a much-needed win on Tuesday afternoon against Andreeva, 6-2 6-3, sends Badosa well on her way.

The Spaniard was in dominant mood, starting her campaign in some style over the young gun from Russia, who many considered to be the favourite for the contest after her run to the Madrid quarter-finals last week, but Badosa held a 5-1 lead before a rain delay, and did not lose that momentum when the match resumed.

Badosa was set to drop outside the top 170 if she had lost this match, but she has earned 35 valuable ranking points by reaching round 2, and although she is still down at No 163 in the WTA Live Rankings, an exit from the top 150 is on the cards if she cannot beat 21st seed Emma Navarro in the next round.

Last month, she revealed on the WTA Insider Podcast that she was taking cortisone injections to handle her physical issues.

“So for me being able to play three, four more years would be amazing, and of course this year to play the full year, and achieve the highest ranking possible,” she said. “I don’t like to put numbers, but I would like to be top 30 and top 10 again, would be amazing, but I think top 10 this year is too much after all.

“Maybe in a year, or a year and a half, I would like to be back there.”

Against Andreeva, Badosa was near her best for an hour and 34 minutes, scoring her first win since March, when she defeated the returning Simona Halep in the 1st-round of the Miami Open.

Andreeva, the 2023 WTA Newcomer of the Year, did not hold serve until the 12th game of the match, although she garnered at least one game point in 3 of her 5 service games to start the match.

Both hit more winners than errors, but Badosa’s final tally of 23 winners to 13 unforced errors proved cleaner than Andreeva’s 21 winners to her 15 miscues, while the Spaniard broke serve 5 times out of 11 break points, and saved 5 of the 7 break points against her own serve.

The Spaniard was the second player to move through through the opening round on the first day of main-draw play, as American Shelby Rogers beat the rain delay by racing through a 6-1 6-0 win over Italian wild-card Lisa Pigato in just 61 minutes, to become the first opponent for Australian Open finalist and No 7 seed Zheng Qinwen from China.

Mirra Andreeva (L) shakes hands with Paula Badosa after their match on Day 1 of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico in Rome

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Andreeva’s compatriot, 20-year old Diana Shnaider, did advance with a 6-2 6-3 win over Belgian Greet Minnen, and lines up to meet yet another Russian, Liudmila Samsonova, the 15th seed, in the 2nd-round.

Former World No 1 Angelique Kerber dropped just a single game to American Lauren Davis in her opening round to notch up her first match win on clay since Roland Garros in 2022.

It was a confident display by the 3-time major left-hander, who returned from maternity leave in January and next faces 17th seed Veronika Kudermetova from Russia.

Kerber, who lost to Davis in 3 sets in the 2nd-round of Wimbledon in 2019, had no problems at all with the American this time in the Grand Stand Arena, and converted her 2nd match point after just over an hour.

Four 1st-round matches also took place on Center Court on Tuesday, but Italian tennis fans had no reason to celebrate, as both their 2 wild-cards lost, Martina Trevisan to Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan, 6-3 6-4, and Lisa Pigato to American Shelby Rogers, 6-1 6-0.

Another two local wild-cards each other battled for a spot in round 2, with Lucrezia Stefanini getting the upper hand of Vittoria Paganetti, 7-5 6-3.

Ana Bogdan took out Leylah Fernandez in straight sets to advance to round 2 in Rome

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ana Bogdan from Romania upset Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who, ranked 34, just missed out on a seeding spot, 6-4 6-1.

21-year old Fernandez has been honoured in her home town of Montreal with a mural that was unveiled this week.

“Just got sent this photo from the tennis Canada team,” she wrote on social media. “A beautiful painting of myself at the IGA Stadium practice courts in Montreal. I couldn’t be more honored! I hope this inspires many young girls to pick up a racket this summer.

“The Final result. I love you Montreal. I can’t wait to be back! Nothing beats playing at home.”

Bogdan, who is ranked 63, started the match the better, getting an early break and leading 2-0, but the 2021 US Open runner-up was able to break back, and quickly levelled at 2-2 in the opener.

Breaking the Canadian again, Bogdan rode out the first set before taking yet another break at the start of the second.

Down 1-4 with two-break deficit, Fernandez had 3 chances to recover one of them in the 6th game, but failed before losing her serve once again.

Bogdan moves on to meet the 6th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova, from the Czech Republic in round 2.

In an all-Chinese tussle, Wang Xinyu got past her compatriot Yuan Yue, 4-6 6-1 6-2, and will meet Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 12th seed, next; while Colombian Camila Osorio also needed 3 sets to see off Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands, 4-6 6-3 6-4, and now will face Madison Keys, the American 18th seed.

Alongside Day 1’s matches, qualifying was also completed, which saw 12 players advance into the main draw that continues on Wednesday with more 1st-round action, including Grand Slam champions, Naomi Osaka and Sofia Kenin.



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