ST PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – Victoria Azarenka set up a meeting with Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Tuesday after a sometimes-shaky 6-4, 6-1 win over Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan.
Azarenka, herself a two-time Australian Open champion, struggled on serve at times and gave up three breaks to Gasparyan.
However, the Belarusian won six straight games from 3-4 in the first set to 3-0 in the second to get the victory.
Kvitova has a bye into the second round.
Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko won a see-saw match against Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 0-6, 6-0.
It was Ostapenko’s first win of 2019 after starting the year with three straight losses, while Mladenovic is now 0-4 on the year, including qualifiers.
Ostapenko will next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won 7-5, 7-6 (4) over Alize Cornet.
Earlier, Julia Goerges won the final four games of the match and beat Maria Sakkari 6-2, 7-5 in the first round.
The fifth-seeded German trailed 5-3 in the second set before going on her run.
Goerges will play Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva in the second round.
Also, eighth-seeded Donna Vekic came back from a set down to beat Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 and set up a second-round match with lucky loser Veronika Kudermetova.