WTA Birmingham: Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova advance, rain delays most of the matches

All the first round matches should’ve been completed today at Aegon Classic in Birmingham, but once again the rain delayed the schedule, and only five matches of the singles draw had been successfully played until the end.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Petra Kvitova both booked their wins in straight sets, while eight seed Karolina Pliskova surrendered to Barbora Strycova in a close two-set battle. Andrea Petkovic and Tsvetana Pironkova also achieved straight set victories.

All the remaining first round matches had been interrupted or postponed to tomorrow.

Kerber and Kvitova successfully achieve straight set wins

Defending champion Angelique Kerber started off her campaign by defeating China’s doubles specialist Peng Shuai, currently ranked 266 in the world, who had entered the tournament with a protected ranking.
The German struggled during the first set, failing to gain any chance to take the lead until the eleventh game, in which she earned two set points.

She failed to convert them, and the set had been dragged into a tie-break. No more struggle for the German from then on, as she won the tie-break with a 7-3 scoreline to book the first set. The second set showed a replay of the first, as once more none of the players managed to earn a chance to advance for most part of the set.

The German needed only one break point to gain a decisive advantage, and to grant herself the chance to serve out the match. She didn’t falter, and converted her second match point to win the match with a 7-6(3), 6-3 scoreline. Both players showed consistency on their serve; the break points gained by Kerber resulted decisive for the outcome of the match.

Before the German’s match, on the first match scheduled on Ann Jones Centre Court, Petra Kvitova achieved the ninth consecutive win against compatriot Lucie Safarova, who has yet to achieve a singles victory against the two-time Wimbledon champion. Kvitova needed only two sets to get rid of the fellow Czech, without ever giving up her serve. Three breaks throughout the whole match had been all that Kvitova needed to succesfully win the match with a 6-3, 6-2 scoreline.

Safarova saved three match points in the last two games and had a chance to take one break back while her opponent was serving for the match, but eventually surrendered to the fellow Czech, for the sixth time in career in two sets. Kvitova showed a better consistency on serve, winning 30 out of 36 points with her first serve and conceding her opponent only one break point throughout all the match.

Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic celebrates her victory during her women's singles first round match against Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic on day two of the WTA Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club on June 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for LTA)

Petkovic and Pironkova advance, Strycova upsets Pliskova

On the second of today’s all-Czech matches, Barbora Strycova defeated eight seed Karolina Pliskova in a close match. Pliskova probably paid off the fatigue, since she came to Birmingham right after her run at Aegon Open in Notthingham, where she won the first grass title of her career. The 24-year-old didn’t gift an easy win to her compatriot; Strycova gained a quick 5-0 lead in the first set, only to lose it as Pliskova managed to level off to a 5-4 scoreline; the 30-year old needed to break the fellow Czech’s serve one more time to claim the first set with a 6-4 scoreline.

The same struggle happened in the second set, where Pliskova saved five match points in the tenth game and two more as the set ended into a tie-break. Strycova eventually prevailed after two hours of play, winning the tie-break with a 9-7 scoreline and earning her first career victory over the fellow Czech. Pliskova had won their only previous encounter, last year in Dubai.

On court 2, Andrea Petkovic got rid of lucky loser Magda Linette with a 6-4, 6-2 scoreline, without ever losing her serve. The German is recently struggling with her form, as she didn’t manage to go past the second round in any tournament since February, where she reached her only semifinal of the year in Doha.

Anyway, she didn’t face any trouble in winning today’s match. The Polish gained two chances to break throughout all the matches but failed to convert any of them, as Petkovic’s consistency on both first and second serve allowed her to always keep the lead of the match.

Qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova booked her place into the second round by defeating Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-2 in little more than an hour. None of the players showed a strong consistency in their service games; the Bulgarian took advantage of Tsurenko’s second serve to attack and gain the decisive advantages that granted her the victory.

Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic falls over as she attempts to play a forehand during her women's singles first round match against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic on day two of the WTA Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club on June 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for LTA)

More first round matches interrupted for rain delay

The rain didn’t concede a break not even in the second day of play. Of all the first round matches scheduled for today, many of them, including the ones which would have starred Caroline Wozniacki, Belinda Bencic, and Johanna Konta, had been cancelled and postponed to tomorrow. Other matches had been interrupted midplay, and will be reprised in tomorrow’s schedule.

First seed Agnieszka Radwanska is tied 4-all against Ricoh Open champion CoCo Vandeweghe, after only 40 minutes of play on Centre Court. 

The match between Daria Gavrilova and Naomi Broady had been interrupted for the second day in a row, as the rain already forced an early stop yesterday after only two points played. Broady currently leads the Australian from 6-4, 2-4 up.

The match between Carla Suárez Navarro and Elina Svitolina had already suffered one interruption today, but couldn’t be completed before the rain forced a definitive stop on all the courts. The players had won one set each, as the Spaniard took the opener for 7-5, while Svitolina won the second for 6-4. Suárez Navarro is currently 1-0 up in the third.

Wild card Tara Moore and qualifier Tamira Paszek were also playing the third set when they had been forced to leave the courts. The British were leading from 6-4, 4-6, 2-1 up.

The covers are put on centre court during a rain delay on day two of the WTA Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club on June 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for LTA)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

All the interrupted matches will be reprised tomorrow if the rain won’t ruin another day of play. All the remaining first round matches will be played as well.

Centre Court will see all the remaining seeds in action, starting with Belinda Bencic against Irina-Camelia Begu, followed by Radwanska reprising her match against Vandeweghe. Johanna Konta will meet Misaki Doi before Caroline Wozniacki takes on Yanina Wickmayer.

Daria Gavrilova and Naomi Broady will start first on Court 1, while Court 2 will see in action Christina McHale against Katerina Siniakova. Paszek and Moore’s match and Suárez  Navarro and Svitolina’s one will be reprised respectively on Court 3 and Court 4

All the courts safe from Centre Court are scheduling all the first round doubles matches.