Croatia’s Donna Vekic has Maria Sakkari’s number: With a 7-6(3), 6-1 win over the fifth-seeded Greek in the first round of the San Diego Open on Tuesday, she defeated Sakkari for the fifth time in seven career meetings .
From 5-3 down in the opening set, Vekic won 10 of the last 12 games to earn a fourth career hard-court win in the head-to-head. Now ranked World No.77, the former Top 20 player qualified for this week’s WTA 500 event and has yet to lose a set.
bestie fight: With an on-court history dating back to 2016, Sakkari and Vekic are also good friends off the court. They hadn’t played in more than two years, and the Croatian noted her slow start in the match might’ve been a consequence of their close relationship.
“Maria’s a really good friend of mine and I wasn’t happy to play her,” Vekic said in victory. “I think we were both really nervous at the beginning, so it was a lot of everything from the start, but I managed to calm down a little bit and I found my zone in the second set.
“I texted her straight away when the draw came out and I was like, ‘Oh my god, we’re playing each other.’ It’s not easy: we fight on the court, but we’re super-close off the court.”
statcheck: Thought both players hit 19 winners in the 96-minute contest, it was Vekic who was the most consistent. She totaled 13 unforced errors to Sakkari’s 22, won five of the six break points she created for herself. Sakkari broke serve just three times in seven chances.
It’s Vekic’s first Top 10 win in more than a year, dating back to a win against Aryna Sabalenka at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. She now owns nine career wins against Top 10 players.
Pliskova bounces back to oust Dolehide; Stephens holds off Teichmann
After an earlier-than-expected exit on home soil last week to American qualifier Alycia Parks, Karolina Pliskova wasn’t about to let history repeat itself.
The former World No.1 and two-time major finalist handled Caroline Dolehide, who knocked out qualifying seeds Madison Brengle and Jil Teichmann to reach the main draw, in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
Pliskova needed 82 minutes to advance to a second-round meeting with Vekic, against whom she’s 6-1 all-time.
Speaking of Teichmann, she nevertheless made it through to the main draw as a lucky loser when Veronika Kudermetova withdrew with a shoulder injury. The last-minute change of opponent was no trouble, though, for Sloane Stephens, whom moved through to Round 2 with a 6-1, 7-6(4) win.
Stephens saved set point in the second set with Teichmann serving up a break at 5-4 to beat the Swiss No.2 for the second time this year. She’ll be the first opponent for No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka.