Third seed Venus Williams’ return to Canada ended in a shock 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 second-round defeat by Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko at the Toronto Cup on Tuesday.
Kim Clijsters’ return, however, had a much happier ending as the hugely popular 2005 champion continued her comeback from a two-year absence with a business-like 6-3, 6-4 first round victory over British qualifier Elena Baltacha.
Williams, who has won 41 career titles but never won a match at the Canadian event that alternates between Toronto and Montreal, had looked ready to end her Canadian drought, racing through the first set in 28 minutes.
However the 64th-ranked Bondarenko refused to fold, trading breaks with the 29-year-old American in the second before finally taking control of the set with another break at 6-5 and then holding serve to level the match.
As a frustrated Williams sprayed shots all over the court, Bondarenko began to find her mark, recording the only break of the third set to go 5-4 up before clinching victory.
“I guess at this tournament I’ve never had a lot of luck, but I guess you have to make your own luck these days,” Williams told reporters.
Williams was joined at the exit by Russian sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, with the French Open champion falling 6-4, 6-3 to Australian Samantha Stosur.
Clijsters, who made a stunning return to the WTA Tour last week in Cincinnati reaching the quarter-finals, simply outclassed her 104th-ranked British opponent in Toronto wrapping up the contest in a tidy 68 minutes.
In other first-round action, ninth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus eased past China’s Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-3, while 11th-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic needed three sets to beat Slovakian qualifier Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Italian 12th seed Flavia Pennetta advanced with a routine 6-3 6-3 win over Russian Maria Kirilenko while 16th seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia beat Italy’s Sara Errani 6-4, 6-2.
AFP, CINCINNATI, OHIO
Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt saved two match points in a second-set tiebreaker on Tuesday and rallied to beat Sweden’s Robin Soderling 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 to advance at the ATP Cincinnati Masters.
Soderling was the man who knocked Rafael Nadal out of the French Open, ending the Spaniard’s four-year reign at Roland Garros on his way to the final where he lost to Roger Federer, just as he did in the Wimbledon fourth round.
“It was a tough match,” Hewitt said. “It was not easy to go through because he has been playing well these past months in Roland Garros and also Wimbledon. He’s the kind of guy who’s gonna hit a lot of winners out there. You sort of got to make him play that one extra shot a lot of times. You can see the confidence.”
Former world No. 1 Hewitt had only 11 unforced errors to 50 for Soderling in reaching the second round of the US$3 million hardcourt tournament, where he will face Germany’s Benjamin Becker for the first time.
“Against Becker, I will have to try to play my game and execute well if I want to go further,” Hewitt said. “He got through his first round quite comfortably so I won’t be taking him lightly.”
Italy’s Andreas Seppi booked a second-round berth opposite Spain’s Nadal with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback win over Czech Jan Hernych.
Spaniard David Ferrer ousted Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in a second-round match to put himself in the path of world No. 1 Roger Federer.
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