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Radwanska and Bencic both surprised in the first round of Aegon Classic

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BIRMINGHAM, England¬†—¬†Agnieszka Radwanska, the top seed, and Belinda Bencic, the youngest player in the top world’s top ten, both fell at the first hurdle on a day of shocks and rainstorms at the Aegon Classic.

Radwanska, a former Wimbledon runner-up, had intended to use the grass court event as a springboard for another assault on the oldest Grand Slam title, but was halted 7-5,4-6, 6-3 by CoCo Vandewegh, a hard-hitting American ranked outside the top 30.

Vandewegh had never come close to winning a set against Radwanska’s consistently skilful ground strokes in four previous meetings, but used her strength and power to good effect.

Even after the Pole intelligently played her way back to parity, Vandewegh maintained a fierce flat attack and managed to break serve three times in the final set.

“Last week helped me get out of tricky situations because I had done it before,” said Vendewegh, referring to her capture of the den Bosch title on grass last week.

“I don’t think I played so bad today – she was just really good,” said Radwanska, disappointed to have had little practice on grass because of the bad weather. This was her first tournament on this surface this year.

Earlier Bencic, arguably the world’s most promising player, suffered another injury just ten days after a lengthy spell on the side-lines with a bad back.

The 19-year-old Swiss player’s movement had been painful and ponderous before she quit half way through the second set during her first round match against Irina-Camelai Begu.

Bencic’s retirement gave the world number 26 from Romania a victory by 6-4, 4-3 retired, though there was hardly a moment when Bencic had been mobile enough to win the match.

She took a tumble on the damp lush grass in the first game, and as early as the fifth game she was seeking help from the trainer. The injury was later described as a thigh strain. “I continued playing more than I should have,” Bencic admitted.

Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

Jared Donaldson fined $6K for ranting at umpire

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MONACO — Jared Donaldson has been fined $6,200 for unsportsmanlike conduct after angrily ranting at the chair umpire during his first-round loss to Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The American became irate with a call when Ramos-Vinolas was serving at 3-2, 40-0 in the second set on Monday. Donaldson thought the serve was out and pointed to the ground, shouting, “There’s a mark right here,” and then screaming the same words in the face of French umpire Arnaud Gabas.

He then squared up to Gabas and shouted: “Yes it is, yeah it is,” as he insisted his mark was right and the umpire’s call of in was wrong.

Donaldson, who yelled again at Gabas before the supervisor came on, received a code violation. He lost 6-3, 6-3.