Cincinnati | Kvitova ends Williams Cinci hopes
Petra Kvitova defeated Serena Williams in Cincinnati to inflict on the American, her second early defeat at a tournament in three weeks.
The Czech beat the former world No.1, 6-3 2-6 6-3 after she had suffered the worst defeat of her career to Jo Konta, winning a solitary game in Washington. She then withdrew for ‘personal reasons’ from the following weeks event in Montreal and no doubt hoped to rebuild her confidence by taking the Cincinnati title for a third time.
We are both coming back – from injury, from motherhood – so it’s something really special to play her. Unfortunately, it’s in the second round, but playing a night session against Serena in front of a USA crowd, it’s been great Petra Kvitova
Kvitova though, had her measure on this occasion winning the first set with relative ease and while Williams improved her game to level the match, it was Kvitova who gained a crucial second break in the sixth game of the third allowing her to serve out for the victory and a place in the third round.
Kvitova, who will play Kristina Mladenovic in round three, said following her victory: “It was a pleasure to share the court with Serena, she’s such a champion.
“We are both coming back – from injury, from motherhood – so it’s something really special to play her.
“Unfortunately, it’s in the second round, but playing a night session against Serena in front of a USA crowd, it’s been great.”
Williams in turn said: “I think it was a good match today. We both played at a really high level. Only one person could win.”
She then went on to remind everyone that she was still making a comeback. “You know, this is a long comeback. I just began. I just started — definitely at the very, very beginning.
“I’m getting there, and I’m going to just continue to work hard and, hopefully, I’ll start winning more matches.”
Meanwhile, number six seed Caroline Garcia fought back from 2-0 down in the first set and 5-3 in the second to overcome Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-5 in one hour and 36 minutes.
Fifth seed Elina Svitolina faced an equally tough match against Svetlana Kuznetsova, with the Russian threatening Svitolina’s lead in each set.
With the breaks going back and forth, the Ukrainian eventually held serve to seal a 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 victory.
Karolina Pliskova, the ninth seed, beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-3 6-3, while Belgian Elise Mertens also progressed after her 6-4 6-2 win over Magdalena Rybarikova, as did Australian Ashleigh Barty.
However, 17th seed Naomi Osaka is out after the Japanese player lost 6-3 7-6(8) to Maria Sakkari of Greece.
Germany’s Tatjana Maria progressed to the second round, where she will take on American world number three Sloane Stephens, the defending US Open champion.
Elsewhere, there were first-round wins for Italian Camila Giorgi and Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, who defeated American Coco Vandeweghe 6-2 6-0.