TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Kateryna Kozlova produced a major upset at the Tashkent Open as she defeated No.1 seed Irena-Camelia Begu, 6-3, 6-2.
Things did not go smoothly initially for the WTA World No.119, who struggled to live with her opponent in the formative stages of the match. Indeed, the Romanian won eight of the first nine points to claim the first couple of games with ease.
A solid service game allowed Kozlova to settle into proceedings, and from nowhere she broke after trailing 40-0 on the Begu serve.
It sparked a period in which both players failed to hold their serve, yet it was for Kozlova that things clicked for in the latter part of the set.
The turning point, however, came when the Ukrainian scampered to the net to return a drop. Her flick crosscourt was initially called out but was overruled by the umpire on the far side of the court. The WTA World No.54 failed to regain her concentration in the aftermath and from 40-15 up was decisively broken.
Constructing some lovely rallies and coming to the net judiciously, Kozlova started to dictate play to her higher-ranked opponent and built on the advantage she had constructed at the start of the second set.
Begu’s frustration was manifest as she bellowed after a rally went awry at 30-30 on her serve, bringing up a break point that fired past her on return by her opponent, who had now won six of the previous seven games.
The top seed managed to regain her footing briefly and in the sixth game fashioned a break point that escaped her grasp when she hit long. Kozlova then produced a fine rally to early game point before Begu hit into the net to present her the hold.
Any momentum that Begu had earned was dissipated with this blow, and her 24-year-old opponent booked a second-round clash with Fiona Ferro of France by holding to love.
No.2 seed Vera Lapko had better luck as she breezed past Bojana Jovanovski, 6-1, 6-3, while there were also straight-sets victories for Arantxa Rus, Vera Zvonareva, Olga Danilovic, Ivana Jorovic and Evgeniya Rodina.
Germany's Mona Barthel, the No.5 seed, was pushed all the way by Nigina Abduraimova before eventually prevailing, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the day's only other singles match.