NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Yanina Wickmayer dropped just seven pointsbehind her first serve to knock out qualifier Elizaveta Kulichkova, 6-4, 6-4, to kick off the grass court season at the Aegon Open in Nottingham.
The former World No.12 has twice reached grass court finals in Birmingham (2008) and 's-Hertogenbosch (2009), and is making her third appearance in Nottingham since it became a WTA tournament.
Trying to make her second quarterfinal of 2017, Wickmayer withstood an impressive serving day from Kulichkova, who struck seven aces and won 67% of her first serve points.
The crucial breaks came at the end of each set with the Belgian turning up the heat on return, engineering six set points before the Russian cracked to fall a set behind. Though Kulichkova broke early to start the second, Wickmayer gamely broke back and repeated her opening set feat to break for the match in the tenth game after 68 minutes on court.
Up next for Wickmayer could well be top seed Johanna Konta, who will be playing her first event since bowing out in the first round of the French Open. To book the clash with the 2009 US Open semifinalist, the hometown favorite will first need to win a battle of the Brits against wilcard Tara Moore.
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Earlier in the day, American Julia Boserup held off once-rising Laura Robson, 6-4, 6-3. Dealing with multiple wrist injuries since peaking at World No.27 in 2013, Robson earned a wildcard into Nottingham and while she had 14 break point chances throughout the 89 minute encounter, she only converted one against Boserup.
Up next for the American is either No.6 seed Shelby Rogers or Donna Vekic.
Around the grounds, 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova defeated Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova, 6-2, 6-2. Hsieh Su-Wei backed up her impressive run at the French Open to knock out Kristina Kucova, 6-1, 6-4, while qualifier Jana Fett edged past No.7 Mona Barthel, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. Magda Linette and qualifier Kristie Ahn each advanced in straight sets over Océane Dodin and Naomi Osaka, respectively.