MONTERREY, April 3, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Three former World No.1 players – defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza, top seed Angelique Kerber and No. 5 seed Victoria Azarenka – were in action on Tuesday at the Abierto GNP Seguros, a WTA International outdoor hard court event, in Monterrey, Mexico.
— Abierto GNP Seguros (@Abierto_GNP) 2. April 2019
Last year, Muguruza beat 2012 champion Timea Babos of Hungary to win the Abierto GNP Seguros for her only 2018 title. Tuesday night, the 19th-seeded Spaniard faced lucky loser Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania, ranked 230th, for the first time and won 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 43 minutes. Muguruza will next take on No. 75 Margarita Gasparyan of Russia.
Fifth-ranked Kerber, a Monterrey finalist in 2013 and 2017 who lost to this year’s No. 3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova both times, took on qualifier Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, ranked 291st. The No. 1 seed from Germany won 7-6 (4), 6-2 to advance against No. 109 Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.
Takes a 7-6(4), 6-2 win over Kucova! pic.twitter.com/DW6ij1Z30O
— WTA (@WTA) 3. April 2019
Speaking of Pavlyuchenkova, the 33rd-ranked Russian has been outstanding throughout her career at Monterrey. She has lifted the Abierto GNP Seguros trophy four times (in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2017) while compiling an outstanding 23-2 win-loss record. Against 117th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, in her first-round match on Tuesday, Pavlyuchenkova easily won 6-0, 6-3. Next, she faces No. 100 Ivana Jorovic of Serbia.
Meanwhile, the No. 5 seed Azarenka from Belarus, who was playing for the first time in Monterrey, beat 514th-ranked qualifier Miyu Kato of Japan, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and 14 minutes. Next up for the 67th-ranked Azarenka is No. 107 Zaria Diyas of Kazakhstan.
“I think the first match is never easy, to play against an opponent that you don’t know, and I hadn’t had enough time to adapt to the conditions yet,” Azarenka said, quoted by the WTA website. “Hopefully it will warm up a little bit.”
Also advancing was No. 7 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France over Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (5), while No. 4 seed Alison Riske was upset by fellow America Sachia Vickery, 7-6 (6), 6-1.
No. 6 seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium and No. 8 seed Magdalena Rybarikova will both play their second-round matches on Wednesday.