The first day of the main draw at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy saw both seeds playing today advanced to the second round.
Niculescu Wins Her Opening Match
Monica Niculescu opened her campaign in St. Petersburg with a win. The ninth seed of the tournament had everything under control in the first set against Russia’s Natalia Vikhlyantseva, winning 8 out of 9 points behind her first serve and converting three out of eight break points. She controlled the set playing very patiently from the baseline, not giving her opponent many angles to work with. It took only 26 minutes to wrap up the set 6-0.
The Russian raised her level in the second set and was able to win her first game of the match holding her serve after facing a break point. Her luck seemed to be changing when she converted her first break point of the match and consolidated the advantage to lead 3-1. Vikhlyantseva would go on to struggle to confirm the break as she had to save two break points after Niculescu held. Her luck ran out in the sixth game of the match when she lost her serve after saving one break point. From that point, the Russian couldn’t hold her serve for the rest match and Niculescu won the match after one hour and 22 minutes 6-0, 6-3.
In the second round, she will face Timea Babos. The Romanian leads their head-to-head 3-1, but Babos won their last meeting this year in Shenzhen in straight sets.
Pavlyuchenkova Advances to the Second Round in Three Sets
It was not an easy day for number five seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as she won in three sets against Klara Koukalova. Before this match, the head-to-head between these players was tied at 2-2. The Czech had won their last two meetings, both in 2012. Early in the match, Koukalova already had an advantage of 3-0, but the Russian went on to win five straight games and was one game away from winning the first set. Pavlyuchenkova held her serve to love and went on to win the first set 6-4.
Both players played a hard-fought second set, holding their serves until 5-4. Pavlyuchenkova had the pressure to hold her serve to stay in the set, but two set points later and a forehand error from the Russian was enough to force the match into a decider.
The loss of the second set didn’t seem to affect the fifth seed as she went on to break her opponent two times in a row, leading the last set 4-0. The Russian was 5-2 up but failed to close the match. She also missed two more chances to break in the next game. However, Pavlyuchenkova only needed one match point under her serve to finally close the match and win her pass into the second round. 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Carina Witthoeft will be her next opponent in the second round; Witthoeft defeated Tamira Paszek in the first match of the day on Sibur Arena. This will be the first meeting between these players.
Yanina Wickmayer became the first winner in St. Petersburg after defeating Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets. It was Wickmayer who got an early break in the first set and that break was enough to give her the set. The second set was less stable for both players as there was six breaks in the set, but in the end, it was Wickmayer who won 6-4, 6-3.
Straight from the qualifying, Kateryna Kozlova stunned Barbora Strycova in one hour and 28 minutes. The Ukrainian broke Strycova in the second game of the match, but she was not able to hold her serve and it seemed like the Czech was ready to come back into the match. However, two breaks later, Kozlova was about to serve for the set but was unable to seal the deal. It only took her one set point to grab the first set 6-3. The second set was almost the same story, and as the set progressed it was clear that the winner would be whoever was able to hold her serve. Kozlova needed three breaks to win the match 6-3, 6-4.
Russia’s up and comer, Margarita Gasparyan would open her campaign against Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski. It was an impressive first set by the Russian, winning 13 out of 15 points on her first serve and taking her chances grabbing all the three break points she had. Gasparyan won the first set 6-1 after twenty-one minutes. Her performance in the second set wasn’t as stable as in the first one, but she still maintained her level and broke her opponent three times. Gasparyan closed the match on her serve after six match points. She won 6-1, 6-2 in under an hour. She will now play the fourth seed, Ana Ivanovic.
The last singles match of the day would be a gruelling match between Timea Babos and Katerina Siniakova. Babos faced a break point in the first game of the match but was able to save it and even had a chance to break Siniakova, but the Czech also saved that to open proceedings with a hold each. From there, the Hungarian lost her serve twice but showed a lot of courage, saving a set point and breaking two times in a row to level up the set 5-5. The tiebreak was dominated by Babos winning seven straight points and thus the set 7-6(0). The second set was also a long one, Siniakova broke first but was broken back right away. The third break of the set came at an 5-5, an unfortunate time for the Czech. Babos would go on to successfully serve out the match, winning in one hour and 50 minutes 7-6(0), 7-5.
In the doubles, Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina defeated Dominika Cibulkova and Anastasia Burhanko 6-0, 6-1. Valentyna Ivakhnenko and Lidziya Marozava won against Alexandra Panova and Olga Savchuck in three sets, 6-3, 1-6, 13-11. Number two seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka were also winners on Tuesday, defeating Xenia Knoll and Demi Schuurs 6-4, 7-6(5).
Day Two Order of Play
Sibur Arena - 11:00 am
[LL] Laura Siegemund vs  Kristina Mladenovic
[LL] Patricia Maria Tig vs [WC] Elena Vesnina
Dominika Cibulkova vs Evgeniya Rodina
Kirsten Flipkens vs Daria Kasatkina
Sibur Arena - not before 6:30 pm
Margarita Gasparyan vs  Ana Ivanovic
Yanina Wickmayer vs  Roberta Vinci
Elena Bogdan / Ilona Kremen vs Darija Jurak / Nicole Melichar
TC Dynamo - not before 3:00 pm
Raluca Olaru / Patricia Maria Tig vs  Monica Niculescu / Laura Siegemund (after suitable rest)