Bettl Open: Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber march on

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The three former world number ones each made relatively light work of their opening clashes in Berlin, with Muguruza seeing off Sorana Cirstea 6-3 6-2.

Muguruza, the 2017 Wimbledon champion, expressed satisfaction with her performance on a return to the grass courts, with that part of the season wiped out in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Very pleased,” Muguruza said on court after going 24-8 on the season.

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“You never know how it’s going to go in the first match, especially on grass after two years, so I’m very excited to win in two sets against Sorana.

“We’ve played many times, and it’s always difficult.”

She will next face Elena Rybakina who, after beating Serena Williams en route to the French Open quarter-finals, came from a set down to see off Shelby Rogers.

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Azarenka was a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) winner over Andrea Petkovic, and the two-time Australian Open champion will now face Kerber for a place in the last eight.

Kerber routed Misaki Doi 6-2 6-1 in a match that lasted only an hour but has lost nine of her previous 10 meetings with Azarenka.

The 2018 Wimbledon champion said: “I will try to play my game, and try to take another chance, and play as many matches as I can before I go to Wimbledon.

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“It’s another good match at a high level, and this is why I’m here. The draw is really strong, so it’s good to have another good match.”

Muchova, though, fell at the first hurdle. The Czech suffered an upset in the third round of the French Open at the hands of Sloane Stephens and lost in three sets in the German capital to Veronika Kudermetova after two hours and 27 minutes.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were wins for Petra Martic, Liudmila Samsonova and Jessica Pegula, whose opponent Hailey Baptiste retired in the first set.

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