Kerber and Kvitova through in rainy Birmingham


Defending champion Angelique Kerber beat Shuai Peng to reach the second round on another rain-affected day at the Aegon Classic.

Australian Open champion Kerber was knocked out of the French Open by Kiki Bertens in round once last month, but started her grass-court season with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory over Peng in Birmingham on Tuesday.

The world number four won 90 per cent of points on her first serve and did not face a solitary break point as she avoided another early exit by seeing off the outsider from China.

Second seed Kerber was joined in round two by Petra Kvitova, who needed only 68 minutes to seal a 6-3 6-2 victory over Lucie Safarova.

Neither two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova nor world number 28 Safarova were able to progress beyond the third round at Roland Garros, but the fifth seed put that disappointment behind her by making a winning start on grass.

Safarova could only force one break point and was unable to take that opportunity, with Kvitova looking far more capable of making an impact at the All England Club just a couple of weeks before the third grand slam of the year gets underway.

The poor weather meant that just three of the five scheduled first-round matches were completed on Monday and it was the same story a day later.

Karolina Pliskova, seeded eight, was beaten 6-4 7-6 (9-7) by fellow-Czech Barbora Strycova, while Andrea Petkovic and Tsvetana Pironkova also reached round two.

Top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Coco Vandeweghe were locked at 4-4 in the first set when play was suspended due to rain.