Australian Open: Varvara Lepchenko upsets Kiki Bertens in straight sets

19th seed Kiki Bertens was upset in the first round of the 2017 Australian Open by American Varvara Lepchenko 7-5, 7-6 (5). The Dutchwoman is the second highest seed in the tournament to lose.

Lepchenko serves for set, gets broken, breaks late to take the opening set

It was Bertens who struck first, setting up two break opportunities at 15-40. After consecutive forehand winners by Lepchenko brought the game back to deuce, a double fault gave the Roland Garros semifinalist a third chance, which was taken when the American missed a forehand.

Lepchenko recovered to win the first set after being broken whille serving for it/Photo: Pat Scala/Getty Images
Lepchenko recovered to win the first set after being broken while serving for it/Photo: Pat Scala/Getty Images

Lepchenko would break back to square the set at 2-2 and in the eighth games, she broke again, a quartet of errors giving Lepchenko a 5-3 lead. Bertens' back was against the wall and she responded with a break to get back on serve and after a hold made it 5-5, it seemed the 19th seed had regained her bearings.

In the twelfth game, Bertens served to stay in the set , but she fell behind 0-40. Saving one set point with a forehand winner, Lepchenko would strike a forehand winner of her own to close out the set and take the lead.

Lepchenko falls behind early, rallies late to win tiebreaker to advance

As in the first set, it was the 19th seed who grabbed the initiative. After wasting a chance to break in the third game with three backhand errors, she breached the Lepchenko serve in the fifth game with three errors from the American.

Bertens' serve was working much better for her in the second set, but she suffered a letdown in the eighth game when she was broken to love on a slew of errors. Twice, Bertens held to stay in the match to force a tiebreaker.

Minibreaks littered the tiebreak with the returner taking four of the first five points. Lepchenko would ultimately win the two key points on Bertens' serve for a 5-2 lead. Bertens fought back to close within 6-5, but a beautifully struck forehand winner on match point sent the American to a second round meeting with Ying-Ying Duan.