LINZ, Austria - Tashkent champion Margarita Gasparyan continued her comeback to action at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, advancing into the second round over an ailing Monica Puig who retired after the first set trailing 6-2.
“First I’m so sorry for Monica, she’s a really great player but unfortunately these things happen in tennis,” Gasparyan said of her ailing opponent.
“I was playing really well in that first set. She was really tough in the beginning, but I think I could manage it well, and glad I resolved it in the end.”
The players traded breaks at the start of the set, both wrestling with the momentum and settling into baseline battles. But Puig, whose right thigh had heavy strapping from the start of the encounter, struggled to hit her serves. Gasparyan took advantage, reeling off four games in a row to break twice and build up a 5-2 lead before Puig requested a medical time out.
After receiving medical attention, Puig returned to play as Gasparyan closed out the set, but found herself unable to continue and retired from the match citing a right leg injury.
Gasparyan came into Linz riding high after lifting the trophy at the Tashkent Open, her first title since returning to the WTA tour. The Russian was sidelined for much of 2016 and 2017 due to knee surgeries, and needed a Special Ranking to enter Tashkent - going all the way to winning the championship match.
“I’m feeling pretty well right now, especially after the title in Tashkent,” she said. “Now I have more confidence and I’m always looking forward to playing well.”
She added, “It’s a really, really amazing feeling for me [to win in Tashkent]. It’s something special of course. But now I’m more focused for every match and every game because all tournaments are really important for me.”
Safely into the second round, Gasparyan awaits the winner between local wildcard Barbara Hass and No.2 seed Kiki Bertens.
“I’ve never played against Kiki, but we’ll see. It’ll be an interesting match no matter who wins, both players are great. I just hope to show my best tennis in the next match.”