Stay tuned and refresh this page for Gippsland Trophy updates throughout the day! Also, keep tabs on Day 1 of the Yarra Valley Classic, also occurring at Melbourne Park, here!
In a battle between former Top 5 players, 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko triumphed over 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the Gippsland Trophy.
One of four Grand Slam champions in the draw, No.13 seed Ostapenko overcame a spirited effort from Errani on Sunday to charge back from the loss of the first set and claim victory after 1 hour and 46 minutes, marking Ostapenko's first match and win of the season.
As the matchprogressed, the vintage Ostapenko power game became ever more precise, and the World No.45 finished the encounter with a whopping 56 winners, well outpacing her 42 unforced errors.
The 131st-ranked Errani had won their sole previous encounter at the 2015 US Open, and the early stages of this match also trended in the Italian’s direction. Errani used deft touch at the net to assist with a first-set surge, picking off the final four games of the opening frame to claim the one-set lead.
The first six games of the second set went against serve, but down 0-40 at 3-3, Ostapenko fought back to earn the first hold of the set. She broke Errani again to lead 5-3. Ostapenko eventually slammed a backhand winner to close out the second set.
Ostapenko soared through the decider, setting up a second-round meeting with Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.
Garcia gallops into second round
Former World No.4 Caroline Garcia of France kicked off her season, and the Gippsland Trophy, with a bang, as she ousted Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova, 6-3, 6-4 in their first-round clash at the WTA 500 event.
"It was a lot of emotions to get back on court, finally," said Garcia, during her on-court, post-match interview. "I tried to stay very calm and play one point at a time, and I think I improved during the match, so that’s the most positive thing about today."
World No.44 Garcia fell to wildcards in her first two tournaments last year, but did not make a similar mistake in her first match of 2021, as she dispatched 169th-ranked Rodionova in 77 minutes. The Frenchwoman extended her head-to-head lead over Rodionova to 2-0, blasting 25 winners to just 17 unforced errors during her second straight-set win over the Australian.
Rodionova broke Garcia in an arduous five-deuce opening game, but Garcia was unfazed by the early deficit and reeled off five of the next six games en route to a one-set lead.
Garcia did not face a break point in the second set, and she grabbed a break in the opening game of that frame. Garcia maintained her break lead from there and ultimately used her forehand to power through a love service game and close out the match.
Kasatkina cruises, while Sasnovich and Kanepi stage courageous comebacks
Among the other early first-round winners at the Gippsland Trophy was former Top 10 player Daria Kasatina of Russia, who overwhelmed former Top 20 player Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, 6-1, 6-1 in just over an hour. Kasatkina beat Buzarnescu at 2019 San Jose when the Romanian was the defending champion and had no trouble claiming her second win in their two meetings.
Meanwhile, former World No.15 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia fought back from the brink of defeat in her first-round match, outlasting Australian wildcard Astra Sharma 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 after falling behind 1-6, 3-5 and being two points away from a loss.
Six-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Kanepi, a WTA singles titlist on Australian soil at 2012 Brisbane, posted a 15-2 record against players ranked outside the Top 100 last season. But she seemed poised to take a rare loss to a player outside of that cohort as Sharma surged to her lead. Nevertheless, Kanepi was able to break Sharma when the Australian served for the match at 6-1, 5-4, then moved to victory.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus also staged a tremendous comeback in her opening match, storming back from 3-6, 0-4 down to overcome Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Sasnovich won nine games in a row to attain a 3-0 lead in the third set before easing through the rest of the decider for the win.
Stat check: Petkovic perseverance
Former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic of Germany grabbed a hard-earned win on Sunday, outlasting Italy's Martina Trevisan, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, to notch a spot in the Gippsland Trophy second round. It marked the German's first WTA main-draw match-win in 15 months, since she defeated Camila Giorgi in the opening round of Luxembourg in October of 2019.
The oft-injured Petkovic only played one match in all of 2020, losing to Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round at 2020 Roland Garros. Next up for Petkovic will be a clash with No.3 seed Elina Svitolina on Monday.
Halep, Gauff also in action on Monday
Along with the Svitolina vs. Petkovic match, key Monday matches at the Gippsland Trophy include No.1 seed Simona Halep against Anastasia Potapova and No.14 seed Coco Gauff against Jil Teichmann.