PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The unseeded Andrea Lazaro Garcia caused the biggest upset of the Prague Open 125K so far, fending off a late fightback to stun No.1 seed Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-4 as second-round play got under way.
Spanish World No.318 Lazaro Garcia, making her debut at this level, went up an early break in each set, only for Niculescu to peg her back both times. However, the Romanian was uncharacteristically error-prone with her backhand and at net, while Lazaro Garcia impressed with her powerful forehand, which scored her numerous winners en route to a career-best win.
An alumna of Florida International University, Lazaro Garcia turned pro on graduating in 2018, and has won three ITF Pro Circuit titles since then, including her first at W25 level in Riba-Roja de Túria last October - a run that featured a win over two-time WTA titlist Lara Arruabarrena. The 25-year-old had also started 2020 well, reaching the Daytona Beach ITF W25 final in January, and led 5-2 in the second set before serving the match out on her second attempt, sealing victory on her fourth match point.
The highest remaining seed in the draw is now No.2 Elisabetta Cocciaretto. The 19-year-old Italian, who reached her maiden WTA quarterfinal a month ago in Palermo, defeated Chile's Daniela Seguel 6-1, 7-6(2). The unseeded former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, competing in her first tournament since July 2019, also reached the third round in straight sets, moving past German compatriot Stephanie Wagner 6-4, 6-4.
No.4 seed Leonie Kung also progressed, the Swiss 19-year-old dispatching Mexico's Ana Sofia Sánchez 6-3, 6-4. The Hua Hin finalist will now face Jessica Pieri after the Italian halted the rise of Ukrainian 17-year-old Daria Lopatetska 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. In a day of mixed results for teenagers, 18-year-old Maja Chwalinska continued to impress. The Pole, who has garnered attention in her ITF Pro Circuit outings for a finesse reminiscent of retired compatriot Agnieszka Radwanska, has lost just three games in two matches after routing No.26 seed Mariam Bolkvadze 6-1, 6-1 in just 70 minutes.
Maintaining strong form this season were No.17 seed Mayar Sherif, the Pepperdine University alumna who made her WTA main draw debut after qualifying for Prague three weeks ago, and No.30 seed Renata Zarazua. Egypt's Sherif, just the second player from her country to compete in a WTA main draw, overcame losing a marathon first set to defeat 2015 US Open junior champion Dalma Galfi 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-1; while Mexico's Zarazua, who upset Sloane Stephens en route to the Acapulco semifinals in February, backed up her first-round rout of Eugenie Bouchard this week to beat Reka-Luca Jani 6-4, 6-3.
In held-over first-round matches from Sunday, Japanese World No.244 Kyoka Okamura dealt out another shock, upsetting Polish No.9 seed Magdalena Frech 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Coming into the tournament, Okamura had never won a match at any level on red clay, while Frech was fresh from her maiden WTA quarterfinal in Prague. Liechtenstein's Kathinka Von Deichmann, who became the first player from her country to compete in a Grand Slam main draw at the 2018 US Open, also survived a delayed three-setter to overcome American Elizabeth Halbauer 6-1, 2-6, 7-5, while No.7 seed Martina Trevisan came from a set down to quell 17-year-old former junior World No.6 Diane Parry 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.