EASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Fourth-seeded Iga Swiatek battled back to defeat home favorite Heather Watson in three sets and earn her first career main draw win on grass Tuesday at the Viking International in Eastbourne.
Swiatek won 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-5 after trailing 4-1 in the deciding set during a packed day of first-round matches at the Wimbledon warmup tournament after a full washout Monday.
“I have a love-hate relationship with grass, so winning will give me more confidence, especially against such an experienced player," said Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion playing just her fourth tournament on grass.
While Swiatek avoided an upset, defending champion Karolina Pliskova couldn't do the same. The former No. 1 player lost to Camila Giorgi 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. The Italian qualifier was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 2018.
The fifth-seeded Pliskova, from the Czech Republic, won the title at Eastbourne in 2017 and 2019. Last year's event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka reached the second round by defeating Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-4.
CoCo Gauff mounted a comeback to beat seventh-seeded Elise Mertens 0-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5. It was the 17-year-old U.S. player's first match since reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinals at the French Open.
Second-seeded Elina Svitolina beat French Open quarterfinalist Paula Bedosa 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1). The 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist from Ukraine next faces Elena Rybakina, who was also pushed to three sets before defeating British player Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
Third-seeded Bianca Andreescu, looking to bounce back from early exits in the French Open and German Open, overcame United States qualifier Christina McHale 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
The 24th-ranked Ons Jabeur earned her tour-leading 29th win this year by beating Czech player Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 7-6 (4).
On Sunday, Jabeur became the first Arab woman to win a singles title on the elite women’s tennis tour with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the Viking Classic final in Birmingham.
Jabeur has a second-round match against Jelena Ostapenko after the Latvian beat eighth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-3 in the Russian's first match since losing the French Open final.
On the men's side, British player Liam Broady defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6 (4) to set up a second-round match against Alex De Minaur of Australia. Sixth-seeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beat Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer 7-5, 6-1.
Rain washed out the opening day on Monday.
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