Wed, Jan 30, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Taiwan’s Hsieh crashes out of Thailand Open

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter

Russia’s Maria Sharapova returns to Daria Gavrilova of Australia in their Saint Petersburg Ladies Trophy first-round match at the Sibur Arena in Russia on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Taiwanese third seed Hsieh Su-wei on Monday fell to a shock 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) defeat to Monica Niculescu in the first round of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin.

The 100th-ranked Romanian saved 10 of 15 break points and converted six of 13 to wrap up the victory in 2 hours, 6 minutes and set up a second-round clash with Poland’s Magda Linette, who defeated Australian qualifier Priscilla Hon 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

“I’m happy that I could play this kind of game. I knew Su-wei is going to be very good ... and I knew she’s a very interesting opponent, mixing the game, like me,” Niculescu said after the match. “I had to run a lot, fight a lot and mix it up, and I think I did that. I’m happy that I could finish in two, because in the end I was losing a little bit of energy, so I’m happy that I could finish it in the tiebreak.”

ST PETERSBURG TROPHY

AFP, SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia

Russian star Maria Sharapova on Monday made a victorious debut at the Saint Petersburg Ladies Trophy, beating Daria Gavrilova of Australia in straight sets.

The 31-year-old prevailed 6-0, 6-4 in 1 hour, 45 minutes to chalk up her third win in four head-to-head meetings with Russian-born Gavrilova.

The unseeded Sharapova was in command from the start on the hard court of Sibur Arena, breaking her rival’s serve three times to take the opening set to love.

Gavrilova broke in the second, but Sharapova, who is ranked world No. 29, replied by breaking twice and sealing her victory with a precise forehand drive.

“It was much harder than the scoreline indicates,” Sharapova said. “It was a tough physical battle, but I expected it as that’s the way we’ve played all of our previous meetings.”

In the round-of-16, five-time major winner Sharapova is to meet third-seeded compatriot Daria Kasatkina, who enjoyed an opening-round bye.

“Daria has recently been in the top 10,” Sharapova said. “Even though she lost early in Australia, she is in good form and it will be hard to play against her, but I feel I’m ready.”

Earlier, Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium saw off compatriot Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-4 to set up a meeting with fourth-seeded Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, Vera Zvonareva, the 2010 Wimbledon and US Open finalist, beat fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-4 in a battle of former top-10 players, who both appeared in the main draw courtesy of wild cards.

“The match was really tough, but I expected that,” Zvonareva said.

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