WTA

Seeds struggle in Luxembourg, Yastremska beats Kasatkina in Moscow

By Sports Desk October 15, 2019

Camila Giorgi bageled Andrea Petkovic in the first set of their first-round match at the Luxembourg Open, but the sixth seed was still eliminated.

Giorgi took just 24 minutes to wrap up the opener and yet Petkovic, a semi-finalist at the Linz Open last week, bounced back, coming from a break down late in the third set to advance.

Fiona Ferro won a solitary game as Monica Puig swatted the seventh seed aside 6-1 6-0, with Alison Van Uytvanck, ranked fourth in Luxembourg, also out having retired in her match against Monica Niculescu when leading 4-2 in the first set.

However, top seed Elise Mertens and third seed Elena Rybakina made it through in straight sets.

Defending champion Daria Kasatkina was knocked out of the Kremlin Cup by fifth seed Dayana Yastremska, the teenager building on a 5-0 lead in the opener to win 6-1 6-4.

Elsewhere, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won the tournament in 2014, came from behind to oust seventh seed Maria Sakkari in a 5-7 6-1 6-3 triumph.

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  • Nadal respects US Open participants that are motivated by prize money Nadal respects US Open participants that are motivated by prize money

    Rafael Nadal will respect the decision of any player who competes in the US Open for much-needed prize money as he further explained why he will not be taking part.

    World number two Nadal announced on Tuesday he will not defend his title in New York due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    The ATP Tour has been suspended since March but is due to resume this month, with the US Open scheduled to get under way behind closed doors on August 31.

    As well as having concerns about the global health crisis, Nadal thought playing hard-court tournaments immediately before the rescheduled clay-court swing could have hindered the potential longevity of his career.

    However, the 34-year-old acknowledged not all players can afford to pass up the prize money on offer at the major following a heavily disrupted season.

    "In the current situation all decisions are valid," Nadal told a news conference on Wednesday.

    "There are few things that influenced my decision and the first one is the sanitary reason. The situation worldwide does not look under control, so after checking with my team and family we decide to remain here.

    "Secondly, there is a complicated calendar after many months without competing. To play on the hard surface first and then change to clay without a break is dangerous for my body and for my future, so this is another factor.

    "And then obviously the personal spirits. Many people are going through a hard time and my mood wasn't ideal to travel to New York and to have all the senses focused in the competition and to give the maximum.

    "With the many protocols that we have, it would have been complicated in addition to all that is happening in the world.

    "I am not the one to say whether it is a wise decision or not [to stage the US Open]. I respect all the work and the positive attitude of the ATP and the USTA [United States Tennis Association] to make tennis come back.

    "I also respect the other players who decide to go, because they have, for example, a different situation and want to earn money there that they need. I respect all decisions, but today it is difficult to say if it is the right thing or not."

    The cancellation of the Madrid Open means Kitzbuhel and Rome are the only clay-court events remaining on the schedule ahead of the French Open, which was moved to a start date of September 28.

    Nadal is yet to make a final decision on his plans ahead of the defence of his title at Roland Garros, where he has been triumphant a record 12 titles.

    "I am preparing for clay in Europe. It depends on how the situation is and if everything is under control or not," said Nadal.

    "I understood that it was much better for my body to train on a slow surface, which is less aggressive for the general well-being. Although that did not take away from me being able to play later in New York.

    "I do not know if I will play Rome or not. I await news of the new adapted calendar after the cancellation of Madrid and from there I will have to make decisions."

  • Martic moves on during mixed day for seeds in Palermo Martic moves on during mixed day for seeds in Palermo

    Petra Martic admitted to feeling more nervous than usual in her first outing at the Palermo Open, though she had little need to worry as she brushed aside Alison Van Uytvanck.

    Martic – the tournament's top seed – triumphed 6-0 6-3 in just over an hour as she played for the first time since February, the WTA Tour having been suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The clay-court event in Italy has seen action resume on the Tour, though world number two Simona Halep withdrew before the event started due to travel concerns.

    Her absence is a boost for Martic's hopes of success, with the Croatian showing few signs of rustiness against Van Uytvanck.

    "I think I felt my nerves a little bit more, because the break was so long," Martic told media via video chat.

    "It's such a big uncertainty going on the court not knowing how you're going to be.

    "I played well before the break, so I was happy with the rhythm, but obviously five months off disrupts everything. Once the match started, I kind of let go and just played."

    Anett Kontaveit also progressed in straight sets, the fourth seed winning the final six games to record a 6-3 6-3 victory over Patricia Maria Tig in a late finish.

    However, there were some big-name casualties on Tuesday.

    Marketa Vondrousova won the opening set with ease, yet the second seed slipped up after such an impressive start, serving up double faults during her 1-6 7-5 6-4 defeat to Kaja Juvan.

    Elise Mertens, the fifth seed, is also out. The Belgian went down 6-4 6-1 to Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

  • Defending champion Nadal to miss US Open due to coronavirus concerns Defending champion Nadal to miss US Open due to coronavirus concerns

    Defending champion Rafael Nadal will not play in the US Open due to concerns over the coronavirus.

    The world number two had long since cast doubt over whether he would travel to New York for a grand slam that will get under way behind closed doors on August 31.

    Nadal on Tuesday confirmed he is not ready to play at Flushing Meadows, a matter of hours after it was announced that the Madrid Open - due to be staged next month - had been cancelled amid the global pandemic

    "After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's US Open. The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don't have control of it," he tweeted.

    "We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.

    "All my respects to the USTA, the US Open organisers and the ATP for trying to put the event together for the players and the fans around the world through TV.

    "This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel."

    The legendary Spaniard's decision to pull out means he will not match Roger Federer's record tally of 20 grand slam singles titles in New York, where the Swiss great will also be absent after undergoing season-ending knee surgery.

    Women's world number one Ash Barty also withdrew from the US Open last week, as she was not prepared to take the "significant risks" of heading to the United States.

    Novak Djokovic, top of the men's rankings, is on the list of players due to feature but also cast doubts over whether he would play even before he tested positive for COVID-19.

    It remains to be seen whether Nadal will make the trip to Paris for the French Open, a major he has dominated that is set to start on September 27.

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