Trio of qualifiers advance

Qualifiers Alize Cornet, Kristina Mladenovic and Maria Sakkari all progressed to the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after recording impressive victories on Tuesday at the Foro Italico.

Cornet dropped just five games as she knocked No. 9 seed Aryna Sabalenka out of the tournament and recorded her first Top 10 victory of the season.

The Frenchwoman, who reached the final at the Italian Open in 2008, dropped serve at the start of the match but then won six straight games to clinch the first set before battling back from 3-1 down in the second to secure a 6-1 6-4 victory.

“I’m very pleased, very pleased to be in the second round. The match today was a little bit out of rhythm…and tough conditions for both of us,” Cornet told the WTA website.

“The whole thing for me was to be solid, to play my game, to fight until the end, and that’s what I did. I think it’s a solid win overall.”

Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who defeated Dayana Yastremska 6-4 1-6 6-3 to mark the 500th match-win of her career, will be Cornet’s second round opponent.

Mladenovic got the better of compatriot Caroline Garcia, a player ranked over 40 places above her, 6-1 6-2 in just 65 minutes to set up a second round encounter against Belinda Bencic, who rallied from a set and a double break down to oust No. 12 seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Sakkari continued the form which took her to first WTA title at Rabat earlier this month with a 6-1 7-5 triumph over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Next up for the Greek will be No. 14 seed Anett Kontaveit who needed three sets to defeat qualifier Mona Barthel in her first round match on Monday.

Elsewhere there were first round victories for Danielle Collins and Mihaela Buzarnescu after their opponents Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Ostapenko were both forced to retire while No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova and No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty got the second round underway with wins over Ajla Tomljanoivc and Viktoria Kuzmova respectively.