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Acapulco | Boulter wins as top seeds exit

Britain’s Katie Boulter has joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, after coming back from a set down to beat lucky loser Francesca di Lorenzo, 2-6 6-3 6-2; but seeds 1-5 all lose their openers.

 

I think my plan, first of all, was to believe that I can win... I came here with opportunities to play against the best players. I was really happy. I really felt the energy, and they’re really always cheering for me, so I’m really thankful for that. I think they were screaming ‘Vamos, Renata’ or something, so that was super nice. I really felt it.  Renata Zarazua

di Lorenzo, a 22-year-old American, had replaced Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, who withdrew through illness.

Ranked more than 250 places higher than the 23-year-old Boulter, di Lorenzo scored 2 consecutive breaks to put herself up 4-0 as she wrapped up the first set inside 26 minutes in Acapulco.

Boulter rallied back, however, and broke the World No 120’s first 2 service games in the second as she forced a decider.

Again, in the third, the Briton forced 2 early breaks and took a 4-0 lead, serving out the set and the match after a minute under 2 hours of play to set up a tie with 6th seed Lin Zhu from China.

Fellow Brit Watson plays Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round on Wednesday.

Boulter, who was the British No 2 before suffering a stress fracture in her back last year, has slipped to 394th in the world rankings after reaching a career-high 82 in February 2019.


Renata Zarazua

© Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Venus Williams squandered 7 match points in her loss to Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan, 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2, while top seed and 2016 champion Sloane Stephens suffered her 4th straight loss to begin 2020, going down to Mexican Renata Zarazua, 6-4 6-2.

It was a massive upset for the wildcard, playing in front of her home crowd.

“I think my plan, first of all, was to believe that I can win,” Zarazua said, after her victory. “I made some tactical plans before the match with my coach. I think I was actually pretty excited.

“I came here with opportunities to play against the best players. I was really happy.”

The World No 270 produced a sterling 85-minute victory over the former World No 3 and 2017 US Open champion.

“I really felt the energy, and they’re really always cheering for me, so I’m really thankful for that,” said Zarazua, when asked about the crowd.

“I think they were screaming ‘Vamos, Renata’ or something, so that was super nice. I really felt it.”

Zarazua struck 15 winners to Stephens’s 10, and the Mexican was able to win 75 percent of points off the American’s second serve.

The 22-year-old is now into the second round of the event for the second time in the past three seasons.

The Mexican’s victory continued a trend of upsets at the event, as 4 of the top 5 seeds had already fallen in the first round, including defending champion and No 2 seed Wang Yafan and two-time champion and No 5 seed Williams.

In her next match, Zarazua will face another American for a spot in the quarter-finals, fellow wildcard Katie Volynets, who beat another American, Shelby Rogers, in the first round, 6-2 7-6(5).


Kaja Juvan

© Hector Vivas/Getty Images

39-year-old Williams has had a tough start to the season, making an early exit at the Australian Open and now bowing out after 2 hours, 38 minutes at the hands of Juvan.

A two-time champion of the event, Williams served 13 double faults as she lost her 4th straight match in a a run dating back to last year.

It was the rising 19-year-old’s, ranked No 125, biggest win of her career, handing former No 1 and 7-time Grand Slam title holder another bitter loss.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said the teenager, who made her Acapulco debut with aplomb, defeating the future Hall of Famer who had claimed back-to-back Acapulco titles in 2009 and 2010.

“I remember the feeling at 5-4 down,” Juvan continued. “I was really grateful that I was able to win, and I guess I had a bit more luck.”

It was, in fact, a tough day for seeds, for Stephens (1), Yafan Wang (2), Maria Bouzkova (3), Lauren Davis (4) and Williams (5), all losing their openers.

The only seed to advance was Zhu, the 6th seed, while there were also wins for Sara Errani, Katie Volynets, Leylah Fernandez and Caroline Dolehide on Tuesday.

This leaves Watson, seeded 7th, as the second favourite for the title.




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