RABAT, Morocco – Sara Errani produced a dexterous performance to defeat Johanna Larsson, 6-3, 6-0 in the second round of the Grand Prix de Sar la Princesse Lalla Meryem.
Going into the match, she held a 6-1 head-to-head advantage over the Swede, who was outmanoeuvred and frustrated in Rabat as her record against the 31-year-old grew worse.
“We know each other very well. We’ve played a lot,” Errani said after her 64-minute victory. “The first set was tough, every point was really long, so it wasn’t easy. The second set, we were both tired and maybe she relaxed a little bit.”
It was an encounter that started promisingly for the WTA World No.82, as she landed a winner onto the line in the first point of the match and went on to break serve.
However, that was as good as things got for Larsson, who found herself scampering all over the court chasing the deft shots of Errani, who used her slice and drop shot to great effect.
Larsson showed moments of quality around the net, too, winning the first point of the fifth game with a stunning touch shot, yet that was rapidly nullified by her opponent, who replied in kind. Larsson managed to fashion two break points in that game but squandered both and suffered a rapid slide thereafter.
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Although Errani was struggling with her ball toss, she made a high percentage of first serves, which were delivered with such venomous spin her opponent had trouble making inroads.
In the seventh game, a chance seemed to present itself to Larsson, who moved 0-30 up, but by the changeover she was battering her racquet off the dirt, having once again been out thought.
Increasingly, the Italian was winning the mental battle and that was emphasised as she broke in the very next game before she held serve to claim the set, fittingly delivering another deft drop that Larsson could not return.
By now, she had the match in the palm of her hand, seemingly able to work the ball into any position that she wished, which served only to increase her opponent’s anguish as she sought to fight back.
A couple of wayward shots from the Larsson as she pushed too hard at the start of the second set presented Errani with an immediate advantage, which was rapidly consolidated.
The Italian then fought back from 40-0 down in the next game to claim a double break and skipped through the last two games with little resistance to secure a third-round meeting with either Laura Siegemund or top seed Elise Mertens.