Ex-Junior Wimbledon runner-up stunned by little-known Kozlova

Madison Brengle, the veteran American, discovered that 13 was an unlucky omen as the no.13 seed tumbled out of the Nottingham Open in three well-fought sets to Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 6-3 5-7 6-3.

The 31-year-old was expected to see off unfancied Kozlova, who has never won a main draw match at Wimbledon, yet was outplayed early on.

Slow to get out of the blocks, former Junior Wimbledon runner-up Brengle levelled matters by cautiously snatching the second set.

The decisive set was a cagey affair with neither player able to stamp their authority, afraid to lose points rather than go for winners, with 27-year-old Kozlova triumphing to set up an encounter with top seed Johanna Konta.

British no.1 Konta was in magnificent form following her disappointing clay court season, which concluded with the split from her coach, but bounced back to dispatch qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-1 6-3.

The Dutch 29-year-old had no answer for Konta’s power game on Centre Court, watched by 400 spectators, defeated in a little under an hour.Croatia’s Donna Vekic, the 2017 Nottingham Open winner, eased past 20-year-old Leonie Küng on Centre Court 7-5 6-1 and will be among the favourites to lift the crown at the weekend for what would surprisingly be only her third WTA Tour title.

The Monaco-based ace, one of just three of top 50 players competing at the Nottingham Open, was edgy during the opening set but then ran riot with a dominant display to seal success.Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic, the no.15 seed who beat France’s Océane Dodin 7-6(4) 7-5, will be Vekic’s next opponent.

Czech Republic’s Tereza Martincova easily accounted for American Caroline Dolehide 6-2 6-3, and is expected to face and US opponent in no.18 seed Christina McHale although could be pitched against Spaniard Georgina García Pérez.

Another American to bow out of the first English grass tournament since 2019 Wimbledon was Kristie Ahl, who retired injured after losing the opening set 6-1 to Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic. Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck, seeded no.8, or Russia’s Marina Melnikova will her next opponent.