Kaia Kanepi through to US Open round two

Kaia Kanepi in action in her round one clash with Barbara Strycova at the US Open.
Kaia Kanepi in action in her round one clash with Barbara Strycova at the US Open. Source: SCANPIX/USA TODAY Sports

Top Estonian tennis player Kaia Kanepi is through to round two of the US Open after overcoming Wimbledon women's doubles champion Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) in the latter's career swansong match, 6:4, 6:4 Tuesday.

Strycova, 37, had originally retired two years ago to become a mother, returning to top-flight tennis in the spring as a final hurrah for fans and a chance to play in some of the grand slams as well.

Undoubtedly a highlight here was winning the Wimbledon Women's Doubles final, partnering with Hsieh Su-wei.

Kanepi, 38, whose career best at the U.S. Open is the quarter finals (which she reached in 2010 and again in 2017), went out in round two after losing to Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus) in 2022, while her 2023 season has not been particularly strong – the highlight would be winning a second-tier ITF tournament held on clay in the Netherlands in July.

She played in the WTA tournaments in Prague and in Chicago more recently.

Both players have in the past made the top 20 in the world, while their rankings as of Tuesday's clash were 430th (Strycova) and 133rd (Kanepi).

The pair had played each other once before, in 2019, when Kanepi won in three sets.

Tuesday's game on Court 15 at the Bille Jean King Tennis Center in New York saw Kanepi immediately break Strycova's serve, and doing so once more, taking the set 6:4.

While Strycova broke Kanepi's serve in set two, to take a 3:1 lead, the Estonian won two in a row to tie things up.

In game nine, while the Czech player had three game points to play for, Kanepi nonetheless broke, taking the score to 5:4, then won on her third match point in the very next game, to take set and match.

The entire encounter lasted one hour and 38 minutes.

The match ended somewhat emotionally as the crowd chanted Strycova's name, and the latter was reduced to tears.

Kanepi served up one ace and committed one double fault during the course of the match, to Strycova's seven double faults and three aces. 

The Estonian converted three out of four break points presented to her; Strycova had only one break point in the entire match, which she also capitalized on.

Kanepi will next face Zheng Qinwen (China, WTA 23rd) who defeated Nadia Podoroska (Argentina, WTA 70th), in her round one fixture. The pair have never met competitively before.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Maarja Värv

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