US Open Day 1 Women’s Recap : Pliskova starts strong, Kontaveit gets the comeback win

Karolina Pliskova in action at the US Open

The US Open, the second Grand Slam of what has been one of the strangest tennis season’s in living memory began with some thrilling action on Monday. But who impressed on day one and who found themselves heading for an early exit?

US Open Day One Women’s Recap

Honourable Mentions

Karolina Pliskova, the top seed, was much improved after a poor showing at the Western and Southern Open, winning 6-4 6-0 against Anhelina Kalinina. Despite a rocky start to the match, Pliskova found her range and a way through her opponent’s defences. In the second set, her tennis was much cleaner, with Pliskova winning 100% of the points behind her first serve and hitting just one unforced error. She next faces Caroline Garcia of France.

Anett Kontaveit has been one of the WTA Tour’s most consistent performers this season and she made a fine start to her US Open campaign with a comeback victory against Danielle Collins of the United States. She lost a high-quality first set 7-5, but raised her level in the second set, playing some of her best tennis of the year to take the second set 6-2. The Estonian hit 13 winners and only one unforced error.

That set her up to complete a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win. Both players ended the match with good stats, Collins having hit 35 winners and 32 unforced errors and Kontaveit a still more impressive 30 winners and only 14 unforced errors. Kontaveit’s win sets up an intriguing second-round clash with Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, with Kontaveit seeking a victory that would see her equal her third-round showing at last year’s US Open.

Jennifer Brady, the 28th seed, bounced back from a surprising first-round loss at the Western and Southern Open to breeze past world #62 Anna Blinkova 6-3 6-2. Brady is one of the form players at this year’s US Open and she played brilliantly against the Russian, blasting 23 winners to just 14 unforced errors. She also punished Blinkova’s second serve, with the Russian winning just 44% of the points behind it. She now faces young gun CiCi Bellis.

Vera Lapko arrived at the US Open without a WTA-level win since April 2019. But she ended that long barren streak with a 1-6 7-6 6-2 win over Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic. It was a performance of note from the 21-year-old, who has been sidelined for months with lingering injuries and appearing to struggle with poor morale. Her win was made all the more impressive by how unlikely it looked in the earlier stages of the match.

After a dreadful start, Lapko found herself staring into the abyss down 1-6 1-4, with Golubic holding a game point for a 5-1 lead in the second set. But Lapko found her game just in time and battled back to force a tiebreak. There she seized the momentum and did not hold back in the decider, striking four aces as she completed the win. That set up a clash with the solid Yulia Putintseva.

Disappointments

Daria Kasatkina fell at the first hurdle in New York for the second consecutive year, losing to the uprising star Marta Kostyuk 6-1 6-2. The Russian, who has previously been ranked inside the world’s top ten, couldn’t find her game, hitting five double faults and just four winners against 17 unforced errors. Kasatkina desperately needs to break out of this long slump, which does not appear to have been affected by the break in the season.

Rebecca Peterson was the only seed in the top half of the draw to lose their first-round match at this year’s US Open as she fell to Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets 7-6 6-4. With only two wins this season, both coming in Monterrey, Peterson might have hoped her fortune would changed this week, but she played erratically, accumulating 38 unforced errors. Concerningly, the Swede has not won a set since the season restarted.

Match of the day

There were many great three-set duels on the first day of action in New York, but the nearly three-hour long battle between Marie Bouzkova and Jessica Pegula was the standout match. Both have played some superb tennis since the season restarted and it’s a shame to lose either one of them so early on. The three-set battle resulted in a 3-6 6-2 7-6 win for Pegula, who at one point was only two points from defeat.

However, she managed to battle her way into a tiebreak and a dominant performance there, she lost only three points, saw her advance to the second round at her home Slam for the first time since 2015. She will surely be delighted with her efforts after also impressing in Cincinnati, where she reached the quarterfinals as a qualifier, and was eventually able to overwhelm Bouzkova, hitting 37 winners en route to victory.

A crucial turning point in the third set came when Pegula managed to dig out a hold from 0-40 down in the seventh game. That enabled her to gain momentum and cut down on some of the unforced errors she had been making at the start of the set. With this victory, she has set up what looks like a winnable second-round clash against Kirsten Flipkens. Sixth seed Petra Kvitova is a potential third-round opponent.

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