WTA Birmingham Day 3 recap: Barty, Williams advance to second round; Konta, Pliskova eliminated
Barty plays a forehand during her first-round victory in Birmingham/Photo: Morgan Harlow/Getty Images

WTA Birmingham Day 3 recap: Barty, Williams advance to second round; Konta, Pliskova eliminated

The French Open champion and five-time Wimbledon champion were among the winners while the Brit and Czech were upset.

john-lupo
John Lupo

Day three of the Nature Valley Classic saw improved weather as the rain-delayed first round was completed and the second round began. French Open champion Ashleigh Barty and Venus Williams were among those to move on.

Not so fortunate was seventh seed Johanna Konta, who was upset by Jelena Ostapenko as well as third seed Karolina Pliskova beaten by sister Kristyna in three sets in their first meeting at the WTA Tour level. Here's a recap of the day's action.

Barty victorious in first action since Roland Garros; Williams also moves on to round two

Playing her first tournament since becoming a Grand Slam champion, Barty turned back the challenge of Donna Vekic, winning 6-3, 6-4 in one hour, 11 minutes. The Aussie won her eighth consecutive match and said afterwards "I think it was probably as smooth as it could have gone. I felt really good with my feet on the grass."

The Aussie reached the final here in 2017, losing to Petra Kvitova, saw off the Croat, who reached the Nottingham final last week. "It was kind of the perfect match for me. Obviously, Donna knows her way around a grass court pretty well, so I needed to be ready and sharp and it was pretty good today."

Williams also looked sharp in defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4 in 81 minutes. The American was granted a wild card into the event and is playing a warm-up event for Wimbledon for just the fourth time in her career and for the first time since 2011.

Williams advanced fairly comfortably against a dangerous opponent/Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Williams advanced fairly comfortably against a dangerous opponent/Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

"I thought today was a really strong start, actually", said Williams, who won 73 percent of her first serve points and converted four of six break point chances. "A pretty cool match, not a lot of errors and my opponent played really, really well. I know i'm going to have to play well from hereon out."

Ostapenko bounces Konta; Kristyna Pliskova ousts sister Karolina

The highlight match of the day was the second round clash between seventh seed Johanna Konta and Jelena Ostapenko. The Brit is coming off of a semifinal run at Roland Garros and had won three of four prior meetings against the Latvian.

It was Ostapenko who turned the tables, picking up a 6-3, 6-4 win, striking 23 winners while saving seven of eight break points in the 88-minute match. "It was a good match from my side", she said following the victory. "I had nothing to lose because Jo is in great form right now and she made the semis at Roland Garros. She is a very good player on grass."

The WTA's first-ever meeting between twins, 78th ranked Kristyna prevailed over sister Karolina by a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7) score. Kristyna broke twice in the opening set to race out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the set with an ace. Karolina needed just one break to see out the second set and level the match.

Kristyna (l.) and Karolina (r.) Pliskova engaged in a historic match in Birmingham on Wednesday/Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Kristyna (l.) and Karolina (r.) Pliskova engaged in a historic match in Birmingham on Wednesday/Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Kristyna gained the upper hand in the third set, gaining a 4-1 lead, but Karolina rallied to level the set at 4-4. They would go to a tiebreaker where things stayed close, Karolina double-faulting to give Kristyna a match point only to see her return the favor.

She got a second chance when again Karolina double-faulted at a crucial time, this one coming at 7-7. Kristyna made no mistake with her second chance, closing out the match in just under two hours, firing 24 aces and 49 winners.

Wang, Strycova among other Wednesday winners

Other first round results saw sixth seed Qiang Wang turn away Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Williams while another American was victorious as Jennifer Brady knocked out the slumping Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-3 to book a second round match against Barty.

Strycova has won four straight sets after losing her opening set/Photo: Roger Evans/Getty Images
Strycova has won four straight sets after losing her opening set/Photo: Roger Evans/Getty Images

Joining Barty and Pliskova in the quarterfinals was Barbora Strycova, who fought past Su-wei Hsieh 7-6 (3), 6-3 to set up an all-Czech affair with Pliskova in the last eight and Petra Martic, who continues her fine 2019 with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Margarita Gasparyan to advance to a meeting with Ostapenko.

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