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Experience wins over youth for rising female stars

Vera Zvonareva hits a backhand against Mona Barthel.
by Benjamin Snyder
Tuesday 26 June 2012

Day two stuck mostly to form with experience winning over youth in the ladies’ event. For instance, one needs not look further than the near defeat of qualifier Coco Vandeweghe, 21, to recent French Open finalist Sara Errani (she held match point when rain halted play for the day) and wild card Ashleigh Barty, 16, to the No.21 seed Roberta Vinci.

Bertens blasts past seeded Safarova
Sporting a powerful, flat style of play, Kiki Bertens, 20, advanced to the second round of her Wimbledon debut by hugging the baseline and forcing the No. 26 seed Lucie Safarova to retrieve. Equipped with a big forehand that barely cleared the net and a serve that speared aces out of her opponent’s reach, the Netherlands-native made her best showing ever at a Grand Slam with the 6-3, 6-0 victory.

To complete the monumental win of her budding career (at No. 22, Safarova is the highest-ranked player Bertens has ever beat), she needed just 50 minutes. Bertens hit 14 winners in the process, including six aces that bolstered her number of first serve points won to 72 percent.

In the final game of the match, Bertens showed little sign of nerves against her more experienced opponent. As if gaining additional confidence from a member of the crowd shouting “C’mon Kiki!” before what would be the match’s final few points, the 20-year old struck a crosscourt forehand winner past Safarova to bring the score to 15-30. Next, a forehand approach error by Safarova, one of 24 total for the Czech player, earned Bertens a match point.

The winner of Fes on clay earlier this year celebrated with a fist pump and by flashing a smile to the crowd as one of her biting slice backhands prompted the four-time titlist across the net to sail a forehand long. With the match completed, Bertens blew a kiss to the fans packed onto the No. 4 Court and exited with the smile still painted across her face.

Barthel’s slump continues with loss to former finalist Zvonareva
After enjoying a stunning start to the year by winning the Hobart event as a qualifier, Mona Barthel has faltered lately with losses in the first round of her last four events. In the year’s second major at Roland Garros, Lauren Davis defeated the German 6-1, 6-1. In fact, in the course of the last nine sets played, Barthel has grabbed just one.

Against the Russian Vera Zvonareva, a finalist at the All England Club in 2010, Barthel’s shaky form continued. In three sets taking over two hours to complete, the German succumbed by a score of 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-4. Despite recording seven aces during the match and achieving 37 winners to the two-time Grand Slam finalist’s 29, Barthel will need to look beyond The Championships to reverse a year that began with the positive punctuation of claiming her maiden WTA title.

Qualifier Pliskova avenges twin sister’s first round loss with win
With a win against Polong Hercog in straight sets, Kristyna Pliskova made up for sister Karolina’s loss to American Sloane Stephen’s yesterday to ensure additional longevity to the Pliskova name in The Championships 2012. Appearing in her second main draw match in the ladies’ event and in only her second Grand Slam main draw overall, the 20-year old from the Czech Republic has now won four matches total at this year’s Wimbledon by first qualifying for the event on the Roehampton courts.

With 15 winners to nine unforced errors and by claiming 80 percent of her first serve points, Pliskova took 51 minutes to advance to her best ever showing at a major event.

Up next for the world No. 148, a quarter-finalist at Nottingham on grass earlier this month, is the 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. The Italian defeated Britain’s Laura Robson in over two hours, winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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