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Stephens, Pliskova win opening matches at San Diego Open

San Diego Open - Day 2

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 11: Sloane Stephens of the United States returns her shot against Jil Teichmann of Switzerland during Day 2 of the San Diego Open, part of the Hologic WTA Tour, at Barnes Tennis Center on October 11, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO -- Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova, a one-time U.S. Open runner-up, won their opening matches at the San Diego Open WTA 500.

Stephens, a wild-card entrant from the United States who won the 2017 U.S. Open, got her second win in 2022 over lucky loser Jil Teichmann, beating the Swiss lefthander 6-1, 7-6 (2). Pliskova, a former No. 1 from the Czech Republic who was the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, beat American Caroilne Dolehide 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the second round.

“It’s always a tough match with her. She’s a great player,” said the 52nd-ranked Stephens, who saved a set point in the second set. “I knew she was going to come out and give me a good fight. I just tried to stay calm and play my game. In the end, it went my way.”

Leylah Fernandez, the U.S. Open 2021 runner-up, dropped her second match this year to No. 8 seed Daria Kasatkina, 6-2, 6-2, in just 59 minutes.

“Dasha is an amazing player. She’s improved so much over the years,” Fernandez observed. “I watched her play on TV when I was still a junior. Seeing her now in the top 10 and doing so well this year is truly inspiring. I think today she showed how well she can play. She didn’t make too many mistakes. I, unfortunately, did.”

Croatia’s Donna Vekic beat fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece for the fifth time in seven meetings, 7-6 (3), 6-1.

“Maria is a really good friend of mine. I wasn’t happy to play her. I think we were both pretty nervous at the beginning, but I managed to calm down a little bit and I think I found my zone in the second set,” said the 77th-ranked Vekic, who now owns nine career wins over Top-10 opponents, including an upset of No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka last summer at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I was really happy when I found out that she took a wild card at the last second and was coming here,” added Vekic. “I texted her straight away. When the draw came out, I was like, `Oh, my God, we’re playing each other!’ It’s not easy. We fight on the court, but we’re still close off the court.”

Vekic, 26, finished with seven aces and converted five of six break-point opportunities.