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Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria wins opener at Veneto Open grass-court tournament

Tennis: Wimbledon

Jul 5, 2022; London, England, United Kingdom; Tatjana Maria (GER) celebrates during a quarterfinals womens singles match against Jule Niemeier (GER) on Number one court at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

GAIBA, Italy -- Tatjana Maria found her grass-court form at the Veneto Open last year and went on to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon. She’s hoping to do it again this year as the top seed.

The 35-year-old German comfortably beat Swiss opponent Ylena In-Albon 6-3, 6-4 in the first round Tuesday.

“I came back because last year I really enjoyed it and then it brought me good luck,” said Maria, who reached the quarterfinals last year. “The courts are much better this year and the grass requires you to play attacking tennis and come to the net.”

Second-seeded Sara Errani, last year’s runner-up, was beaten 7-5, 7-5 by Katie Swan of Britain.

Also, fifth-seeded Taylor Townsend lost 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to fellow American Robin Montgomery, an 18-year-old who won the girls’ singles and doubles titles at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Also advancing were Yanina Wickmayer, Sinja Kraus, Lucrezia Stefanini, Evgeniya Rodina, Laura Pigossi, Nuria Brancaccio, Ashlyn Krueger and Ysaline Bonaventure.

It’s the second year of the Veneto Open, the first WTA tournament played on natural grass in Italy. The courts are made on former soccer fields.