No.9 seed Barbora Krejcikova delivered an exquisite performance in her first match as a Top 10 player, storming past Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 12 minutes. She was followed on Center Court by compatriot and No.11 seed Petra Kvitova, who also moved into round two with a 7-5, 6-4 defeat of former champion Madison Keys.
Play was delayed by around two hours due to heavy rain in Cincinnati, and Krejcikova wasted no time in booking her second-round spot. The Czech struck 32 winners across 17 games compared to Kasatkina's six and faced break points in just one of her service games, despite landing only 55% of her first serves.
It was a thoroughly confident performance from Krejcikova, who has won 23 of her past 25 matches and three of her past five tournaments. Kasatkina has also been in excellent form in 2021, having reached her fourth final of the year in San Jose two weeks ago, but the Russian never found an answer to Krejcikova's imperious form. By the end, Kasatkina was doing well just to cling on to her serve.
Key to the match: In a first-time encounter between two players renowned for their variety, it was Krejcikova who overwhelmed Kasatkina with the sheer breadth of her repertoire. The 25-year-old essayed seemingly effortless changes of direction off both wings, casually flicking the ball both down the line and finding sharp crosscourt angles to end rallies. In the home stretch, Krejcikova even wheeled out a delightfully spun dropshot as if to show off. Kasatkina was rarely able to keep the ball out of Krejcikova's strike zone, and was kept on the back foot throughout.
Turning point: Dictating from the baseline, Krejcikova had gained the first break for a 3-1 lead - but two errors and a double fault had her facing triple break-back point immediately. Kasatkina was unable to grab this opportunity, squandering two of those chances with routine errors, and Krejcikova escaped to hold for 4-1. The Czech would drop only six more points on serve.
What's next for Krejcikova: Another first-time encounter, this time against a youngster, in the second round. Krejcikova will take on either the power of 21-year-old Dayana Yastremska or the finesse of another player whose doubles success has so far outpaced her singles achievements, 19-year-old wildcard Caty McNally.
Kvitova overcomes former champion Keys; Ostapenko, Teichmann progress
The first-round clash between Kvitova and Keys was always destined to deliver power, and so it proved as the two former Top 10 players rained down aces and winners at each other. Kvitova got off to a blistering start and finished with superior numbers: nine aces to Keys' eight and 28 winners compared to 19.
But it was Kvitova's clutch play on big points which served her best. The two-time Wimbledon champion saved eight of the nine break points she faced, including all seven in the early stages of the second set with either service winners or one-two punches. By contrast, Keys offered up a double fault to lose the crucial break of serve at 5-5 in the first set, and was unable to deal with a deep Kvitova return down break point in the first game of the second.
Keys, winner in Cincinnati in 2019, is now on a four-match losing streak dating back to her fourth-round loss to Viktorija Golubic at Wimbledon. The American also lost her San Jose opener to Zhang Shuai and her first round in Montreal to Rebecca Marino.
Ostapenko, however, snapped her own three-match losing streak with a rollercoaster 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Tamara Zidansek. The Latvian oscillated between supreme ball-striking and errant double faults to post her first win since Wimbledon, racing out to a 5-1 lead before being pegged back to 5-5.
But Roland Garros semifinalist Zidansek, competing for the first time since winning her maiden title in Lausanne last month, was unable to complete the comeback. Two double faults at 5-6 from the Slovenian opened the door again for Ostapenko, who stormed through to take the first set with a return winner. In the second, she again leapt out to 5-1, but snuffed out two break points and any hope of a first-set reprise to seal the win there.
Teichmann, one of the form players of the first half of 2021, has struggled for form and fitness since sustaining an ankle injury in Strasbourg in May. Since then, the Swiss had won just one match in five tournaments. But she posted a stellar and much-needed 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sorana Cirstea in just 59 minutes.