Top-seed Niculescu ousted
Tashkent, Uzbekistan - Top-seed Monica Niculescu of Romania was knocked out in the first round of the Tashkent Open on Tuesday, falling 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 to 135th-ranked Karin Knapp of Italy.
Niculescu, who was also beaten in the first round of the US Open, looked in control after the first set but was broken decisively in the eighth game of the second. She then lost the final three games of the decider.
Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic upset fourth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, and Russian qualifier Anna Chakvetadze defeated Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3. Eighth-seeded Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan came from a set down to beat Vesna Dolonc of Serbia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.
With sliced forehands and smart backhands, Niculescu broke Knapp for 5-4 in their third set. But the Italian broke straight back and kept on rolling through the final two games, taking advantage of some woeful serving that plagued Niculescu for much of the final two sets.
"Monica is a very unusual player, but I have played her before and knew to win I had to push myself and hit the ball hard," said Knapp, who has been ranked as high as 35th. "I didn't have any rhythm at the beginning but as the match progressed I started getting my strokes."
In the other surprise, Vekic, in only her second WTA event, held her nerve to down Rybarikova for her first win against a top-100 player. She took a 5-3 lead in the first set but needed four set-points before winning it in the tie-breaker. The second set was easier for the 16-year-old Croatian, as she broke the seasoned Rybarikova twice on her way to the biggest win of her career.
"It's my first top-100 win and it really feels great and I'm very happy," the 183rd-ranked Vekic said. "When I was 5-3 up (in the first set) with three set-points I was very nervous, but then I played confidently in the tie-break and the rest of the match."
Results from the second day of the Tashkent Open on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Karin Knapp (ITA) bt Monica Niculescu (ROM x1) 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-4, 6-2
Eva Birnerova (CZE) bt Claire Feuerstein (FRA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Alexandra Cadantu (ROM x5) bt Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Magdalna Rybarikova (SVK x4) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3
Bojana Jovanovski (SRB x6) bt Dinah Pfizenmaier (GER) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ x8) bt Vesna Manasieva (SRB) 3-6, 6-1, 6-0
Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) bt Lesya Tsurenko (UKR) 6-4, 6-3
Irina Begu (ROM) bt Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) 6-4, 6-3
Misaki Doi (JPN) bt Julia Cohen (USA) 6-3, 6-0
Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) bt Nigina Abduraimova (UZB) 6-2, 6-
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