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Mattek-Sands Derails Vekic Challenge

Wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands overcame the heat, humidity and Donna Vekic to reach the second round in Kuala Lumpur.

Published February 26, 2013 04:39

Mattek-Sands Derails Vekic Challenge
Bethanie Mattek-Sands

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Less than 72 hours after lifting the doubles title in Dubai, Bethanie Mattek-Sands took the first steps towards revitalizing her singles career with a first round win over No.6 seed Donna Vekic at the BMW Malaysian Open.

Remarkably, for a player who just 18 months ago was sitting at a career-high No.30 in the rankings, this was Mattek-Sands' first main draw victory of the season. And, with mid-afternoon temperatures scaling 90°F in the Malaysian capital, she was made to work for it.

Eager to negate the effects of these energy-sapping conditions, Mattek-Sands was even more aggressive than usual and was rewarded for her positive approach when she broke the Vekic serve in a marathon opening game of the third set.

In a match dominated by serve, this slip proved terminal, as Mattek-Sands held her nerve to close out the match, 63 46 62.

"It was a good match. She came out playing very well," Mattek-Sands said. "I haven't seen much of her before - I know she's very young but she has a lot of talent and a lot of potential - and I had to step up in the third and play aggressive.

"The courts are quick, so I was trying to rip the ball and take it early. That's my game plan, to be aggressive and come to net and hit big serves."

Despite making her tournament debut this week, Mattek-Sands, now ranked down at No.197, arrived well briefed on what to expect from the city's notoriously harsh conditions.

"It's my first time in Kuala Lumpur, so I wasn't totally sure what to expect," she added. "I spoke to a few friends and they told me it's pretty much the hottest place on tour.

"Heat's tough to deal with, but if you're struggling you know your opponent is too because everybody has got to play in the same heat and same humidity. It's just who can fight it out and be stronger."

Even more influential than the heat over the first few days, though, has been the rain. And after Monday's near washout, another thunderstorm put paid to the majority of Tuesday's action too.

Among those that did manage to make it on court were Misaki Doi, Karolina Pliskova and Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, who scored straight set wins over Alberta Brianti, Casey Dellacqua and Claire Feuerstein, respectively.

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