Rome | Svitolina falls as Giorgi and Badosa prevail

Day 2 saw the completion of 1st-round matches at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in drizzly Rome on Tuesday, lining up opponents for the seeded players who received byes, but former World No 2 and two-time champion here, Elina Svitolina, is not amongst them as she succumbed to fellow Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in straight sets, while both home favourite Camila Giorgi and Spain’s Paula Badosa went the distance.

It was disappointment for Svitolina, who is making a come-back after maternity leave, and took an early 2-0 lead, only for Tsurenko to quickly turn the tide, and score an impressive win, 6-4 6-3.

Although Svitolina managed to level the score at 4-4, Tsurenko remained resilient, eventually clinching the first set, while the second saw both trading breaks again before Tsurenko started dominating the court, eventually securing the win after taking 4 games in a row.

Both have actively worked to keep the ongoing crisis in Ukraine at the forefront of the tennis community, and, despite the emotional weight of the situation, Tsurenko was able to maintain a competitive edge throughout the match.

“In every possible way, I want to make sure Ukraine is still in the news,” Svitolina said last week. “Playing tournaments, trying to organise events on the side, connecting with people around the events – that’s really important. The war continues, so we need to continue helping people.

“We have to cherish our bodies. In our bodies, we are capable of impossible things. All these moments together that we have, we have to cherish them, because you never know what’s going to come next.”

Tsurenko moves on this week to meet Bernarda Pera, the No 28 seed from the USA, with the winner lining up for a potential match-up against the World No 1, Iga Swiatek.

The 21-year old Pole, however, faces a tough test in her 2nd-round opponent, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after the Russian cruised past Italian wild-card Sara Errani, 6-1 6-1, in just 62 minutes, scooping up a couple of breaks in each set in a contest between two former Roland Garros finalists.

Pavlyuchenkova did not face a break point in only her second win since making her come-back following an injury break.


Flamboyant Camila Giorgi from a set down to beat qualifier Arantxa Rus in Rome

Internazionali BNL d’Italia/Facebook

Another Italian, Camila Giorgi, successfully came back from a set down to beat qualifier Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands, 4-6 6-2 6-2, after a 2 hour 5 minute tussle.

Rus broke serve in the 5th game to love to pocket the first set, but Giorgi broke twice to close out the second and forced the match into the decider.

The flamboyant Italian earned a break in the second game of the third to take a 2-0 lead, but Rus broke straight back before Giorgi took control of the match with a break in the 6th game to secure a popular win.

Giorgi next faces Ekaterina Alexandrova, the 15th seed from Russia.


Paula Badosa needed a third-set breaker to squeak past Anna-Lena Friedsam on Wednesday

Internazionali BNL d’Italia/Twitter

Spain’s Paula Badosa needed a third-set breaker to squeak past Anna-Lena Friedsam from Germany, 4-6 6-2 7-6(2), setting up a marquee 2nd-round encounter with Ons Jabeur, the 4th seed from Tunisia.

“[Jabeur is] an amazing player, it’s going to be a battle like always,” Badosa said, looking ahead. “Really looking forward to that. I respect her a lot, and I hope it’s going to be a good match and people have fun.”

Badosa took 2 hours and 37 minutes to battle her way past 88th-ranked Friedsam in their first meeting, which finished at 12.45 am on Thursday morning local time.

After splitting the first two sets, the players saved a combined 7 break points en route to 3-3 in the decider, when a break lead for Badosa at 4-3 was quickly erased by Friedsam as the rallies got lengthier later into the night.

It took a tiebreak to settle the matter, in which Badosa took control, and, at 5-2, Friedsam barely missed a backhand wide at the end of a long rally to offer the Spaniard 4 match points.

Badosa needed just the one, as she forced an error with a last fierce forehand, scoring 16 more winners than Friedsam, and only 3 more unforced errors than the qualifier.

“Really happy about this win,” Badosa said. “I think [Friedsam] played at an amazing level, and I’m really happy that I kept fighting until the last point.”

Badosa was ranked No 11 in January, but the former World No 2 slid down to 42 by the end of April, despite winning 6 of her first 10 matches to start the year.

Since the beginning of the clay-court season, though, Badosa has posted quality results, with quarter-final showings at Charleston and Stuttgart, and a Round of 16 appearance on home soil in Madrid, edging her ranking up to No 35 this week.

The Spaniard holds a 3-1 lead against Jabeur in their head-to-head, while a potential wrinkle is whether the Tunisian’s body will allow her to play to her customary level as she has been struggling with various injuries throughout this season, including a recent a calf injury that caused her to miss out on defending her Madrid title 2 weeks ago.


Sloane Stephens beat Argentine Nadia Podoroska and the American will face Victoria Azarenka next at the Foro Italico in Rome

© Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Meanwhile, former US Open champion Sloane Stephens beat Argentine Nadia Podoroska, 6-4 6-1, in an hour and 22 minutes, and the American will face former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka next.

Stephens earned the first break to take a 2-1 lead, but Podoroska struck back to draw level at 2-2, before the American broke for a second time in the 9th game to close out the first set, and then broke 3 times more to win the second.

Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, who won the WTA 125 title in Reus last week, came from a break down to beat 21-year old Katie Volynets from the USA, 2-6 6-3 6-4.

The American earned an early break in the first game of the opening set, but Cristea levelled at 2-2 before Volynets won 4 consecutive games to take the first set.

The Romanian broke in the second game of the second, and rode it it out to level, pushing things into a decider, in which Volynets broke serve to love to open up a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Cristea broke straight back on her third chance, and broke again at love in the 7th game to seal a slot against Jelena Ostapenko, the No 20 seed from Latvia.

Another Romanian, World No 152 Gabriela Ruse, who came through qualifying, battled in spotty rain at the tail end of her first-rounder, to cruise past 55th-ranked Linda Fruhvirtova, the Czech who is the youngest player in the Top 100 at 18 years and 9 days old.

Ruse eased past, 6-1 6-0, saving all 6 of the break points she faced, and moves on to meet last year’s Birmingham champion Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 12th seed from Brazil.

Colombia’s Camila Osorio, who also had to qualify, overcame Varvara Gracheva from Russia, 7-6(4) 1-6 7-6(4), in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Osorio fended off 3 match points when she was 2-5 down in the third set, and was unable to convert 2 match points at 6-5, but she won the breaker to set up a 2nd-round match against Petra Martic, the 29th seed from Croatia.


Foro Italico, Rome

Internazionali BNL d’Italia/Twitter

In other Tuesday results, Russian Anna Kalinskaya defeated Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine, 6-4 6-2; American Claire Liu outlasted Italian wild-card Camila Rosatella, 6-7(9) 6-2 6-2; Czech Karolina Muchova saw off Kamilla Rakhimova, a qualifier from Russia, 6-4 7-4; Montenegrin Danka Kovinic battled past Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti, 6-3 3-6 6-3;Austrian Julia Grabher got past Italian wild-card Nuria Brancaccio, 6-4 3-6 6-2; Kazakh Yulia Putintseva outpaced Belgian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova, 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-0; Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto dispatched Lauren Davis from the USA; Hungarian Anna Bondar, a qualifier, upset Tatjana Maria from Germany, 6-4 6-1; Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet stopped Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova, 7-6(2) 6-4; American Taylor Townsend edged past Ysalin Bonaventure from Belgium, 4-6 6-1 7-5, in a battle between two qualifiers; Romanian Ana Bogdan dispatched Japanese qualifier Nao Hibino, 7-5 6-0; and Polish qualifier Magdalena Frech eliminated Italian wild-card Matilde Paoletti, 4-6 6-2 7-5.


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