With loss in Cincinnati, Serena is running out of time to get back into shape for the US Open
CINCINNATI: Serena Williams’ farewell tour suffered another bump in the road on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-0 first-round loss to Emma Raducanu at the Cincinnati Open, one of the final betting events to the point before the last Grand Slam of the career of the great American.
Serena has just one more professional tournament before the US Open, where she will have one last chance to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
The 40-year-old left the court shortly after the loss without speaking to TV reporters and did not hold a press conference.
Raducanu beat Serena early in both sets to claim victory in what was her first and likely last encounter with the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, setting up a clash against two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka.
Serena’s older sister Venus suffered a 7-5, 6-1 loss earlier in the day, losing to 2016 champion Karolina Pliskova.
Naomi Osaka’s US Open preparations suffered another setback as the former world number one was swept 6-4, 7-5 by China’s Zhang Shuai.
It was Osaka’s third tournament after an Achilles tendon injury and it was a strong comeback for the two-time US Open champion, who also left the first round in Toronto last week, retiring with lower back pain.
Zhang next meets Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat last year’s losing US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez on Monday.
American teenager Coco Gauff, this year’s French Open runner-up, rolled her left ankle late in the first set of her match against qualifier Marie Bouzkova and eventually retired as she led 7- 5, 1-0.
Amanda Anisimova withdrew from her match against fellow American Shelby Rogers with a left ankle injury while second seed Anett Kontaveit progressed to the round of 16 after a rain-cut victory 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 against qualifier Tereza Martincova.
She was joined by Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, who defeated fourth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-1 while Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic lost 6-2, 6-7 (3 -7), 6-4 against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
Two-time major winner Simona Halep, former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko and former US Open finalist Madison Keys also advanced to the second round.
MEDVEDEV BACK ON TRACK
In the joint event men’s draw, Daniil Medvedev looked to have a point to prove as the Russian prepared for his US Open title defense with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Botic van from Zandschulp in the second round.
Medvedev had gained momentum heading into the final Grand Slam of the year at Flushing Meadows by winning a tune-up event in Los Cabos without dropping a set, but was beaten by Nick Kyrgios in the second round of the Canadian Masters in Montreal last week.
Kyrgios started the last major US Open tune-up with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to reach the second round. He now faces his good friend Taylor Fritz after the American crushed Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1.
Elsewhere, Spain’s third seed Carlos Alcaraz advanced on his tournament debut, beating American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2 to set up a third-round match against former US Open champion Marin Cilic , who beat Emil Ruusuvuori.
Italy’s 10th seed Jannik Sinner celebrated his 21st birthday by defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman also celebrated a birthday, his 30th, with a 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-2 win over Aslan Karatsev in a late game to advance to the third round.
In other first round matches at the Masters 1000 tournament, Tommy Paul beat compatriot Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-2, Australia’s Alex de Minaur dispatched Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen 6-2, 6-2, the Croatian Borna Coric beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 and Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas beat Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3.
Posted in Dawn, August 18, 2022