Getty Images

Top-ranked Kerber falls to Kvitova at Wuhan Open

Leave a comment

WUHAN, China (AP) Angelique Kerber lost her first match as the No. 1-ranked player, losing to Petra Kvitova in the third round of the Wuhan Open on Wednesday.

Kvitova saved 17 of 22 break points on her way to the 6-7 (10), 7-5, 6-4 win over Kerber, who committed eight double faults.

Kerber replaced Serena Williams atop the rankings with her run to the U.S. Open title, and took time off before coming to China to start her Asian swing in Wuhan, where she had a bye in the first round.

Kvitova last beat Kerber in the 2014 Fed Cup final, and had since lost to the German three times, including in the U.S. Open fourth round.

In the quarterfinals, Kvitova will face Johanna Konta of Britain, who beat seventh-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 7-5, 7-6 (6). Konta saved three set points in a marathon ninth game, and recovered from 6-3 down in the tiebreak.

Svetlana Kuznetsova ousted defending champion Venus Williams 6-2, 6-2.

Kuznetsova dominated Williams from the outset, breaking the American five times. She improved to 5-4 against Williams.

Williams struggled with her serve in the gusty conditions and had seven double faults.

Simona Halep of Romania also advanced past Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-3.

Halep, showing no sign of the hamstring injury that ruled her out of Tokyo last week, will face Madison Keys of the United States in the quarters. Keys beat Russian qualifier Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

Djokovic lines up Dimitrov at Queen’s Club

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Novak Djokovic’s first appearance at Queen’s Club in eight years was successful when he put away Australian qualifier John Millman 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Djokovic, entered as a wild card, will play second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Also, Milos Raonic, runner-up to Roger Federer last week in Stuttgart, won his opener when Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri retired hurt while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

Djokovic’s comeback from right elbow surgery in January has been gathering pace after reaching the Rome semifinals and French Open quarterfinals. He leads Dimitrov 6-1 in career matchups.

Dimitrov, the 2014 Queen’s champion, struggled past Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Dimitrov saved six of eight break points.

Svitolina’s top ambitions survive grass-court struggle

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BIRMINGHAM, England — Elena Svitolina, who came within two wins of becoming world No. 1 in January, maintained her ambitious momentum to reach the top by surviving a tricky start to her Wimbledon build-up on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Svitolina stumbled within sight of a two-set victory, and briefly faltered again in the last set before beating Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Svitolina showed glimpses of the tenacious movement and consistently ferocious drives which have earned her the best win-loss record on the WTA tour since the beginning of last year, but also revealed glimpses of insecurity on the lush, low-bouncing surface.

Despite carving a lead of a set and 3-1, her gradually increasing attempts to win points in the forecourt were of variable quality, while Vekic, a former runner-up here, began to contain and counterattack more effectively.

Svitolina nearly let slip another lead of 3-1, in the last set, needing to save two break points on her next service game – one with a fine serve, and the other with a net attack finished off at the third attempt.

Eventually, the Ukrainian’s determination to adapt tactically to a surface on which she has yet to progress beyond any quarterfinal paid timely dividends, and she accelerated toward the finishing line at a canter.

“I was just trying to play well and to dominate, but she played a couple of great points to break back – which is always nice to have,” said Svitolina, apparently meaning she was pleased to gain extra practice on such a technique-testing surface.

“It was difficult for me because she hit the ball very flat and the first match on grass is always a challenge.”

She next faces Alize Cornet of France, who notably beat Serena Williams at 2014 Wimbledon, and who outlasted former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, by 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.