Zverev loses on day of upsets on French Open showcourt

Leave a comment

PARIS — On a day of upsets on Court Philippe Chatrier, up-and-coming youngster Alexander Zverev lost to Fernando Verdasco when their first-round match resumed at the French Open on Tuesday.

The match was suspended on Monday because of darkness after the players split the first two sets and the ninth-seeded Zverev was eventually beaten 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

No. 7 seed Johanna Konta of Britain had earlier lost 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 to 109th-ranked Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan on the showcourt. Considering the setting, the result is not all that surprising: Konta has now lost all three matches she’s played at the French Open in her career.

The 33-year-old Verdasco pinpointed the third set as the turning point of his match.

“It was a really tough first set, the first one of today. And I think with many games for both of us with chances to win one or the other,” the Spaniard said.

“And, you know, I think that that moment of winning the third set gave me a lot of confidence and a lot of air to play the fourth. And I think it was hard for him on the other side. Like, you know, to start again and have to win two more sets.”

Zverev was one of the outside favorites after impressing on his way to victory at the Italian Open earlier this month. But the 20-year-old German grew more frustrated as the match went on and broke his racket during the fourth set.

“You sometimes play bad. It’s just this is our sport,” Zverev said. “There is no regrets. I mean, what can you do? In Rome I played fantastic, I won the tournament. Here I played bad, I lost first round. That’s the way it goes.

“But the world doesn’t stop now. I mean, I’m still No. 4 in the race to London and I’m still doing OK this year. I won three tournaments so far. It’s not the end of the world, OK? I lost a match, but, I mean, pretty much everybody loses a match every single week they play.”

Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro returned to Roland Garros for the first time in five years and the 2009 U.S. Open champion had little trouble picking up a victory.

After a series of wrist operations kept him off the tour for months at a time, Del Potro once again used his big forehand to great effect. He beat qualifier Guido Pella 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in an all-Argentine matchup, showing no sign of the shoulder and back problems that hampered him at the Lyon Open last week and did not face a single break point.

Stan Wawrinka is also safely through to the second round after a 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-3 win over Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia.

Wawrinka started his clay season poorly before emerging with a title at the Geneva Open last week. The No. 3 seed kept up his momentum in Paris.

“I enjoyed it very much,” said Wawrinka, who won at Roland Garros in 2015. “It was not necessarily easy after I played in Geneva until Saturday to get into gear. I’m feeling good, I’m playing good tennis and I’m happy to be back in Paris.”

Other winners included No. 18 Nick Kyrgios and No. 5 Elina Svitolina.

6-time champ Djokovic loses at Miami Open to Benoit Paire

AP Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Novak Djokovic’s 16-match Key Biscayne winning streak ended, and his struggle to overcome a bothersome right elbow continued.

Djokovic lasted barely an hour at a tournament he has won six times, losing his opening match Friday in the Miami Open to Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4.

The defeat was Djokovic’s third in a row. He returned from a six-month injury absence at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round, and was upset two weeks ago at Indian Wells by Taro Daniel, a 109th-ranked qualifier.

Against the 47th-ranked Paire, Djokovic dropped serve four times, returned poorly and had difficulty anticipating his crafty opponent’s drop shots.

In women’s play, Naomi Osaka’s breakthrough winning streak ended with a loss to No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-2. Osaka said began feeling ill before the match but didn’t want to retire after upsetting eight-time champion Serena Williams in the first round.

The 20-year-old Osaka is ranked a career-high 22nd and won her first career title last week at Indian Wells.

Djokovic sat out the last half of 2017 because of problems with his racket-swinging arm, saying it had been bothering him for more than a year. He was sidelined again after this year’s Australian Open and said he had a “small medical intervention” on his elbow.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion didn’t seem to favor it against Paire, but his shots lacked their usually snap and sometimes were awkwardly struck, including the last two on match point.

In the first set Djokovic served with a chance to reach 5-all, but from 40-0 he lost five consecutive points and the set. Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match.

The loss was Djokovic’s first at Key Biscayne since 2013. He missed last year’s Miami Open but won the title three consecutive years in 2014-16.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Top-ranked Halep wins tough 3-setter in Miami

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania struggled to post a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 second-round win over French lucky loser Oceane Dodin at the Miami Open on Thursday.

In the first career meeting between the players, Halep allowed the 98th-ranked Dodin to break her serve on six of seven opportunities she presented in the match, which lasted more than two hours.

Halep broke Dodin’s serve for the seventh time at 4-4 in the third set before closing it out.

Halep played in her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but has yet to secure a Grand Slam trophy.

Halep’s best Miami Open was reaching the 2015 semifinals.

Also Thursday, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Kerber is 19-4 this year and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all five tournaments she’s played.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open champion, won her first tournament since that U.S. Open at Sydney in January. She also reached the Australian Open semifinals.