BOL, Croatia – No.2 seed Mandy Minella made a winning return to the picturesque Croatia Bol Open, knocking out American wildcard Nicole Gibbs in the first round of the WTA 125K Series event.
The defending champion was surely happy to be back to the tournament were she won her first title; earlier in the season, the Luxembourger revealed that she had considered retirement before her Bol victory.
"Bol was where everything changed for me,” she said in Miami. “I'd had some really miserable results up to that point, and I was about to stop my career at Wimbledon.
“I think I just relaxed and enjoyed being there. The city was fantastic; they had a nice hotel with a spa, and the sea was quiet. I really enjoyed it there, and it helped me play good enough to win my first title over there. It'll always be in my memories for a long time."
Minella faced a tricky start as the American broke first to build up a 3-0 lead. She quickly got back on track, reeling off four games in a row to edge ahead before taking the set in a roller-coaster final game; she fought off four break points and needed five set points to close it out.
Things were more straightforward in the second, as Minella got ahead a double break over Gibbs and steadily marched on to victory after an hour and 27 minutes.
Joining Minella in the round of 16 is No.6 seed Kateryna Bondarenko, who took down Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomoya in a marathon 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-1 battle. Beatriz Haddad Maia moved past Alexandra Panova 6-2, 6-2, while Olga Govortsova defeated Maryna Zanevska 6-3, 6-4; Alison Van Uytvanck won against Renata Voracova 6-0, 6-4.
Alexandra Cadantu notched the day’s big upset, defeating No.3 seed Natalia Vikhlyantseva, a St Petersburg Ladies Trophy semifinalist, in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.