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Defending champ Ostapenko advances in Eastbourne; former winner Keys and Kvitova win

Eastbourne : Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko made a winning start at the Rothesay International here on Tuesday, beating Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets.

The eighth-seeded Latvian won 6-4, 6-4 against Tomljanovic to open her 2022 campaign at the WTA 500 event, with her sixth straight win in the British coastal city.

“She’s a good player and I knew it was going to be a tough battle. For some moments, I didn’t feel comfortable, but then I managed to win the match. It’s great to be back … and I’m happy to be back here,” Ostapenko said in victory.

Looking for grass-court revenge on Tomljanovic, her conqueror at Wimbledon 12 months ago, Ostapenko was a breakdown in each set. She came from 4-2 behind in the first set to win it and also lost her serve to open the second set.

“I was just trying to not miss any balls and put more balls in play, but also still to stay aggressive,” the defending champion added. “I felt like, in some moments, balls that I shouldn’t miss, I missed. I’m just glad I managed to win,” she was quoted as saying in a report on the WTA Tour website.

Meanwhile, former finallist Petra Kvitova and 2014 winner Madison Keys of the United States too advanced in the grass-court event.

Since reaching the quarterfinals in Miami in March, Kvitova has struggled for wins. The two-time Wimbledon champion arrived in Eastbourne with a 1-5 record in her last six events, including a first-round loss to Beatriz Haddad Maia in Birmingham last week. The Czech defeated former Top 20 player Donna Vekic, 6-1, 7-6(1) for her first grass win of the season.

Kvitova’s 1 hour, 12-minute win was the first match between the two on a natural surface all-time; she’d won two of their prior three that were all played on hard courts.

After Kvitova dominated the opening set, breaking Vekic’s serve twice, neither woman faced a break point in the second set; Kvitova, seeded 14th here, was dominant in the tiebreak, winning the first three points and the last four.

Madison Keys, the 2014 champion here, was the third former champion alongside Ostapenko and Karolina Pliskova in the draw, was a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Lauren Davis in her first grass-court match of the season.

Keys last played at Roland Garros, where she reached the fourth round in singles and the semifinals in doubles with compatriot Taylor Townsend. Keys won her first career WTA singles title in Eastbourne eight years ago and is playing here for the first time since her title defense ended in the second round the next year.

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