Petra Kvitova suffered a shock 1-6 6-1 6-3 loss to Kristyna Pliskova in the second round of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston.
The loss ended a run of 24 consecutive wins for the No.2 seed over her fellow Czechs and it is the first time either Pliskova sister has beaten Kvitova on the WTA tour.
“I’m really happy,” said Pliskova in her on-court interview. “It’s my second top ten win this year and it’s special against Petra. She’s played so well against Czech players so I’m happy I broke her streak.”
It was looking like the younger Czech would suffer a heavy defeat when she lost the first set 6-1, but she turned the match around completely in sets two and three to earn a deserved victory.
“My serve was horrible in the first set,” said Pliskova. “I feel like it was flying everywhere, so I just focused on my serve. And then the (rest of my) game was a bit better as well.”
The World No.78 certainly served significantly better in the second set. She won 14 of 22 points on her serve compared to 13 of 34 points in the opener.
Pliskova’s improvements on her serve enabled her to swing freely in her return games and she broke Kvitova three times in the second and twice in the decider.
Konta crashes out
Kvitova was not the only high-profile casualty on the clay of South Carolina as Johanna Konta’s poor start to 2018 continued.
The Briton never really got going in her match against Fanny Stollar and lost 6-3 6-4 to the Hungarian qualifier.
It was Konta’s eighth loss in 19 matches so far this season and her second defeat to a player ranked outside the World’s Top 100.
When the Briton is playing well, she invariably serves well, and in the first set her serving was very poor. She only made 48% of her first serves and won just 25% of points on her second serve.
Inevitably, such poor serving gave Stollar numerous opportunities to break Konta, and she did exactly that three times in the opening set.
The 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist raised her level in the second set and it was a much closer affair. However, despite performing better, Konta failed to create a single break point chance in the set.
By contrast, Stollar earned three break points in the set and eventually took the one she needed in game nine before holding serve to seal a famous win.
It was the Hungarian’s second big scalp in Charleston after she beat Vesnina in the second round in 2017. “It looks like this is now my favourite tournament,” she said in her on-court interview.
“She’s really tough to play against,” Stollar said. “I lost to her once already so I was coming out expecting nothing of myself. I was just going to play my game and I really focused on every point.”
The Hungarian continued, “In both sets I really just tried to break her and hold my serve. (I wanted to) keep her behind the baseline and stay aggressive.”
Osaka, Goerges, Barty and Vesnina progress
Elsewhere in Charleston, Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka saw off a strong challenge from Laura Siegemund as she beat the German 6-3 7-6(8).
The Japanese is likely to face a tough task in the last 16 against another German: Julia Goerges. The fifth seed came from a set down to edge out young American Kristie Ahn 2-6 6-4 7-6(1).
Ashleigh Barty backed up her convincing first-round win with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 triumph over Tatjana Maria. The Australian will now play Anastasia Sevastova, who also needed three sets to overcome Caroline Dolehide 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1.
2016 finalist Elena Vesnina stormed to a 6-4 6-1 victory over Taylor Townsend, Camila Giorgi upset 11th seed Daria Gavrilova 6-2 2-6 6-3 and Kiki Bertens beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-2.
Sara Errani continued her progress with a 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu, Alize Cornet took down Polona Hercog 6-2 6-3, Irina-Camelia Begu beat Claire Liu 6-4 6-2 and Bernarda Pera overcame Dayana Yastremska 7-6(4) 1-6 6-4.
Leylah Fernandez Overcomes Pavlyuchenkova To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round
It was a tough day at the office for the US Open runner-up.
Leylah Fernandez pulled off one of her famous comebacks in the Californian desert beating the number nine seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.
The Canadian hit 24 winners in the win while the Russian hit 46 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth before Fernandez was able to pull through in the end.
“What I am most proud of is the way that I fought and honestly today wasn’t my best performance,” Fernandez said afterwards. “But I fought for every point and I was trying to figure things out. I was proud I was able to find a way to get back in the match and get the win”.
After holding serve in her opening service game the world number 28 started putting the pressure right away on the Russian by getting two early break points but failed to convert.
At 3-3, it was Fernandez facing the pressure on her serve and the world number 13 had four looks at a breakpoint. On the fourth the Canadian cracked and double-faulted for the first break of serve of the match.
The Russian lead didn’t last long as the Canadian responded right away in the following game and the next four games went with breaks of serve as both players were struggling to hold serve.
Pavlyuchenkova eventually served for the set at 6-5 and was able to serve it out to take a 7-5 lead.
Pavlyuchenkova carried the momentum into the second set and broke Fernandez’s serve in the first game of the set but at 2-1 got broken once again and the set went back on serve.
It stayed on serve until 4-3 when Fernandez managed to get the crucial break of serve and that was enough for her to serve out the second set.
The first four games of the third set went on serve and at 2-2 again it was the Montreal native earning a breakpoint and breaking once again and despite facing pressure from the Russian was able to serve out the match.
After the match in her on-court interview, Fernandez was asked about all the support she has been getting recently and what it means to her to play on such a big stage.
“I got goosebumps,’ she said. “I was super excited to play here in Indian Wells for the first time and to play in a stadium where so many legends played who fought and won so it’s an honor to be here. I can’t wait to play my next match”.
Fernandez will next face the American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16 on Tuesday after she beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-2.
Bianca Andreescu Begins Indian Wells Title Defense With Rollercoaster win
The Canadian began her title defense from 2019 with a three-set win over her American opponent.
Reigning Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu is into the third round after a epic two-hour and 48 battle with Alison Riske which she eventually won 7-6, 5-7, 6-2.
” I’m very happy to be back and I felt all the emotions coming back here to Indian Wells, especially stepping on this court and it honestly feels awesome”. Said Andreescu.
The Toronto native fired 30 winners in a match that went back and forth in the last match on Stadium court.
The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Canadian with the first two chances of the match to break and she was able to get the first break of serve in the match but failed to consolidate and Riske broke back the following game.
Andreescu had another chance at 3-3 but was snuffed by the world number 51 and the first set was decided by a tiebreaker. In that breaker, the number 16 seed jumped out to a 4-2 lead which was enough to take the first set.
After holding in her opening service game the Canadian had three chances for an early break in the second set but the American was able to save all three and held serve.
At 2-1, the world number 21 had two more chances and with a return winner on double break point she took a 3-1 lead and this time was able to consolidate the break and hold serve.
At 4-2, the world number 51 attempted a comeback and after earning two breakpoints of her own broke back to put the set back on serve but at 5-4 the Canadian had two match points but the American saved both.
At 5-5, Riske had two more breakpoints and managed to get the crucial break of serve and serve out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.
The number 16 seed was keen on getting the early lead in the third set and she did just that to take a 2-0 lead and at 4-1 managed to turn her break into a double break and served out the match.
After the match in her on-court interview, Andreescu was asked what had happened in the second set and how she was able to respond in the third set.
” She played very well, I honestly had no idea what happened and she picked up her level while I kinda stayed the same,” she said. “Then I had to refocus for the third set and I had to change my tactics a little bit and it helped”.
Andreescu is now lifetime 8-0 in Indian Wells dating back to 2019 when she won and is still the current defending champion. She will take that record into her next match where she will face Anett Kontaveit.
Aryna Sabalenka Out Of Indian Wells After Positive COVID Test
Sabalenka is the latest player to be ruled out of a tournament after testing positive for the virus.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka says she is ‘looking OK’ after confirming she has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Belarussian was set to be the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells which will get underway next week after Ash Barty withdrew from the draw. It is not known as to if Sabalenka is currently experiencing any symptoms at present or when exactly she tested positive for the virus. She hasn’t played on the Tour since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last month.
“Unfortunately I’ve tested positive at Indian Wells and won’t be able to compete,” Sabalenka wrote in an Instagram story.
“I’ve started my isolation and I’ll be staying here until I’m cleared by the doctors and health officials.
“So far I’m looking OK but really sad to not be able to play this year.”
It is unclear if the 23-year-old has received a COVID vaccination after she previously expressed caution over receiving one. During the Miami Open in March Sabalenka told reporters she was concerned about how quickly the vaccine has been produced and the effects it might have on her body.
“So far I don’t really trust it. It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family have it,” she said. “I will think about this. I mean, if I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it, because our life is a travel life and I think we are the ones who actually should make it. But I will see.”
In recent months tennis’ governing bodies have been urging their players to get vaccinated but some such as Sabalenka are still hesitant. On the other hand, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has previously called for the vaccine to be made mandatory on the Tour.
So far this season Sabalenka has achieved a win-loss record of 42-14 and has reached the semi-finals at her two most recent Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). She has won two titles in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season and then Madrid in May. Sabalenka also reached the final of another tournament in Stuttgart.
Replacing Sabalenka as the top seed in Indian Wells will be Karolina Pliskova who is a two-time semi-finalist in the tournament.
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