Angelique Kerber suffered a surprise first round defeat at the J & T Ostrava Open on Tuesday at the hands of Jil Teichmann, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Rybakina, Yulia Putintseva and Tereza Martincova all advanced to round two.
Switzerland’s Teichmann breezed to an upset of former World No 1 Kerber, 6-2 6-3, in an hour and 12 minutes of play, with the 3-time Grand Slam champion from Germany struggling with her serve, dropping it 3 times in each set in the first meeting between the two players on tour.
It was a battle between two left-handers in which Teichmann took charge by winning 60 percent of points off the Kerber first serve, and converted 6 of her 9 break points in the match.
The World No 42 took out the 6th seed Kerber after first storming her way to a 5-0 lead before the German made a brief come-back, holding for 5-1 and converting her 5th break point in the following game to reach 5-2, but Teichmann’s powerful returning allowed her to break again for the one-set lead.
Three service breaks in a row left Teichmann holding a 3-1 lead in the second when the Swiss finally held to love hold for 4-1.
Two double-faults in the next game by Kerber coughed up a love break for 5-1 lead to the Swiss but she could not serve out the match as a fiery crosscourt forehand let the German claw a break back.
It only delayed the inevitable and Teichmann wrapped up the win 2 games later when Kerber sent her return long.
Teichmann will now face either American Alison Riske, last week’s Portoroz runner-up, or French qualifier Fiona Ferro in the second round, who play their opener on Wednesday.
Russia’s 5th seed Pavlyuchenkova had a tough opening set but then cruised to a 7-6(3) 6-1 win over Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh in an hour and 33 minutes.
The 2021 French Open finalist had won their only previous meeting, when the Croatian was 16 years old in 2014, and both have experienced ups-and-downs since.
Unranked a year ago, Konjuh’s return from her 4th elbow surgery has seen her rise back to World No 77 this week as she has established a 40-21 win-loss record this year, without suffering recurring pain.
Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in May, a decade after playing her first major quarter-final there as a teenager, and the 30-year-old has matched her career-high ranking of 13 this week, which she first achieved in July 2011.
The Russian held a set point on return at 5-4, which Konjuh saved when Pavlyuchenkova sent a backhand long.
In the tiebreak, Konjuh went up a 2-0 but Pavlyuchenkova won 7 of the next 8 points and converted her first set point to take the set, 7-3.
Konjuh saved 4 break points at the start of the second, but she netted a backhand on the 5th and Pavlyuchenkova went up 3-0 with a double break.
Although Konjuh pulled one of those back to love in the 4th game, Pavlyuchnkova broke twice more to comfortably close out the match.
For a place in the quarter-finals, Pavlyuchenkova will take on Tereza Martincova, who won a thrilling all-Czech contest between wild-cards, 5-7 6-4 7-6(7), over her compatriot Katarina Siniakova.
Martincova, the World No 61, came from a set, and 2 breaks plus a match point down in the deciding set to score the tight win.
Siniakova, who is ranked 50, led 5-0 in the 3rd set and held a match point at 6-5 in the breaker before Martincova turned the match around to win after an enthralling 3 hours 6 minute battle, winning 4 of the last 5 points in the process.
Astonishingly a final-set tiebreak had also decided Martincova and Siniakova’s lone previous meeting, which came at an ITF Challenger event in Nantes, France, in 2015, which Siniakova won.
This time around, Martincova emerged the victor, but not without a struggle, with each breaking serve 6 times, but Martincova had many more chances than Siniakova, with 20 break points to Siniakova’s 10.
Siniakova fired 49 winners to Martincova’s 18, but Siniakova was undone by 67 unforced errors, including 7 double-faults.
Meanwhile, Yulia Putintseva from Kazakstan also survived a roller-coaster ride against China’s Shuai Zhang, eventually coming through 5-7 6-7(7) 6-4 in 3 hours 24 minutes to set up a meeting with top seed Iga Swiatek from Poland on Wednesday.
The Kazakh also saved a match point before rallying from a set down to beat the Chinese in the 7th longest match of the season so far.
Putintseva was unable to close out the first set from 5-3 up, as Zhang fended off 2 set points and broke back to draw level at 5-5 after a 7-deuce 10th game.
The Chinese grabbed the momentum by reeling off 9 of the next 11 games in the first set to take a 5-2 lead in the second, but she wasted a match point on her own serve after netting at 5-4.
Zhang then went up 5-1 in the ensuing tiebreak, but Putintseva came back to win it 9-7 on her 3rd set point to push the affair into a decider.
Coming back from 1-3 down, Zhang took a 4-3 lead with a double break before Putintseva rallied to win 12 of the last 16 points, sealing her win on her 2nd match point as the Chinese sent her backhand wide.
It will be Putintseva’s first encounter with 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek.
Elsewhere, fellow Kazakh Rybakina, the No 7 seed, eased past Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, 6-1 6-3, and she now meets Magda Linette of Poland in round two.