LIMOGES, France - 2016 champion Ekaterina Alexandrova made a strong start at the Engie Open de Limoges, a WTA 125K event, edging past Olga Govortsova in a three-set marathon to move into the second round.

No.8 seed Alexandrova fired off a head-turning 18 aces in total against Govortsova - 10 of those coming in the first set alone - en route to a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2 victory in two hours and 18 minutes.

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Alexandrova’s game flourishes on indoor hardcourts; she lifted her only WTA-level trophy here in Limoges back in 2016, and she comes hot off a run to the final at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz last month.  

The Russian took command of the encounter against Govortsova from the start, her strong serves keeping her in front in the rallies and earning her 10 free points off of aces. In four of her five service games, Alexandrova didn’t drop more than two points - putting the pressure on Govortsova to take her chances. Alexandrova claimed the lone break at 3-2 and comfortably took the opening set.

Alexandrova started the second set with an early break, consolidating to 2-0, and looked set to tear through the encounter - but the Belarusian had other ideas. She broke back after a marathon game to level at 2-2 and held toe-to-toe with Alexandrova to force a tiebreak - where she reeled off five points in a row to build up a hefty lead and send them into a decider.

But with both players dialed in, it was the former champion Alexandrova who found another gear in the final set. She fought off four break chances across two games, replying strongly to get ahead a double break and build up a 5-1 lead. She weathered a slight hiccup at the end - she held two match points on her racquet but was broken serving for the match as Govortsova looked keen to force a comeback, but Alexandrova wrapped things up in the next game to close out her spot in the second round.

In other Limoges results, former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva eased past the big-serving Georgina Garcia Perez 6-4, 6-3 to join Alexandrova in the next round. American Jamie Loeb also scored a win, defeating Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-4.

Tamara Korpatsch of Germany came back from a set down against Rebecca Sramkova, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 to win in two hours and 12 minutes, and Ukrainian wildcard Katarina Zavatska earned the first WTA-level hardcourt win of her career against lucky loser Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 7-5, 7-6(5).

More to follow...