WTA Stuttgart: Roberta Vinci inches past Ekaterina Makarova in three grueling sets
Roberta Vinci in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts

Roberta Vinci edged out Ekaterina Makarova in three sets in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. The Italian tallied her 15th win this year after her hard-fought win on the red clay of Stuttgart.

Vinci Takes Lengthy Set

Roberta Vinci started her tournament campaign with a love hold. But her second time at the service line saw her get broken early on. The Italian wasted zero time to break Ekaterina Makarova back to level first set proceedings. The players then exchanged breaks for a second time as the set was even at three games apiece. The Vinci forehand stayed relentless, but the Makarova backhand evenly matched the Italian’s strength.

The set remained on-serve to force an opening set tiebreaker. The sixth seed earned the advantage as she raced to a lead of six points to three. Last year’s US Open finalist wrapped up a grueling 56-minute grind after the Russian slid a forehand wide.

Roberta Vinci in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts
Roberta Vinci in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts

Makarova Forces Decisive Set

The pair exchanged three early breaks to put the Italian up two games to one. Roberta Vinci extended her lead with a consolidation of serve to put her within three games of the second round. But Ekaterina Makarova grabbed a crucial game with a nifty hold. The Russian sparked a momentum shift as the second set was leveled after Vinci fired her first double fault of the day.

Despite the Italian leading 40-15 at 3-all, the world number 29, Makarova, stole the game to earn her first lead of the second set. The sixth seed then misfired off her backhand side to hand her opposition the crucial break. Although the Russian failed to close out the set after squandering a 30-love lead, Makarova cruised through her next return game to force a deciding third set.

Ekaterina Makarova in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts
Ekaterina Makarova in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts

Italian Levels Head-to-head With Makarova

Roberta Vinci raced to a deciding set lead at three games to one as her forehand dictated play. The sixth seed refused to let another lead slip away from her and she continued to place the ball efficiently off her forehand wing. Makarova showed signs of resilience with a tight hold to 30, but it deemed too late. The world number eight, Vinci, then held serve to love to put her within a game of advancing at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The set maintained the on-serve trend to force the Italian to serve for the match in a nerve-racking first round encounter. Roberta Vinci did not display any signs of nerves as she raced to a 40-15 lead. This year’s St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy champion clinched the well-earned triumph in two hours and 20 minutes with a penetrating forehand to cap off proceedings.

Roberta Vinci in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts
Roberta Vinci in Porsche Tennis Grand Prix action. Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts

Sixth Seed To Face German Wildcard

Roberta Vinci booked herself a meeting with the 2011 champion in Stuttgart, Julia Goerges. The Italian-German pair will face off for their third career time, with the sixth seed leading two wins to none. Vinci looks to reach her best career performance in the luxurious venue of Stuttgart. On the other hand, Goerges hopes to reach her first quarterfinal at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix since the year she lifted the trophy five years ago.

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