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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday August 22, 2020

Maria Sakkari came out with a plan and executed it perfectly to take down 16-year-old Coco Gauff in first-round action at the Western and Southern Open in New York on Saturday.

Tennis Express

The 13th-seeded and 21st-ranked Greek rolled past the World No. 50, 6-1 6-3 behind 14 winners and 21 of 25 first-serve points won to set reach the second round.

“I think my serve was one thing that really worked well today and gave me a lot of, you know, cheap points, if I can call them like that,” Sakkari said. “I think the toughest spot was, you know, just to follow the tactic the whole time, like always. But, you know, I'm very satisfied, because after a long time I got to play on that level.”

Sakkari, who posted two Top 10 wins on her way to the quarter-finals at Cincinnati last year, will face either Yulia Putintseva or Zhang Shuai in the second round.

Gauff, meanwhile, will take what she can from this defeat (and her semi-final run at Lexington last week) and get ready for the US Open, which begins next Monday in New York.

“Definitely today was not my best match,” Gauff said. “I could have played better. She came out strong, hitting her shots. I didn't really have good responses to those. I'm just going to use this match to kind of prepare for the US Open. I have a whole week before that, and I'm going to take what I did today and learn from it.”

Rybakina Upended, Azarenka Prevails

Two of the hottest players in tennis before the sport was interrupted squared off in head-to-head in the first match of the day and it was Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova that came up with the 7-5 7-6(6) win over Elena Rybakina. Alexandrova, one of two first-time winners on the WTA Tour this season, struck eight aces and saved two of three break points.

“I can't say that today [there were] many good things on court, because of the concentration and focus, I was really up and down every time, like mostly down,” Rybakina said.

Rybakina drops to 21-5 on the season while Alexandrova improves to 13-5. The Russian will face either Iga Swiatek or Christina McHale in second-round action.

Victoria Azarenka knocked off 15th-seeded Donna Vekic 6-2 6-3 for her first career win over the Croatian. It was also the 2013 Cincinnati champion’s first win of 2020.

Other winners on Saturday on the WTA side were Alizé Cornet (d. Caty McNally), Veronika Kudermetova (d. Ajla Tomljanovic), Bernarda Pera (d. Heather Watson) and Kristina Mladenovic (d. Anastasija Sevastova).


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