A big puff of pizzazz seeped out of the Cincinnati Open yesterday as its top seed Caroline Wozniacki slipped out and star attraction Serena Williams quit the tournament, along with third seed Victoria Azarenka.
Fans and organizers were left deflated with 13-times grand-slam winner Williams and third-seed Azarenka both having been scheduled to play on center court as part of a busy schedule alongside the ATP men’s event.
Williams pulled out citing a right toe injury — but also noting her need to get some rest before the US Open.
“I don’t think this is a good time for me to take a big chance. I just don’t think that would be smart,” American Williams said.
Azarenka then withdrew due to a right hand injury which she didn’t want to risk just two weeks from the final grand-slam event of the year in New York.
“It’s impossible to play for me. I was waiting until the last moment to be 100 percent sure that I cannot compete,” said the Belarussian.
“It’s important also prior to the US Open. It just doesn’t make any sense to make it worse,” she said.
Those fans of the women’s game who did manage to see one of the favorites witnessed an upset with Wozniacki looking well below her best against 19-year-old American Christine McHale.
With golf sensation and friend Rory McIlroy in attendance, the Danish top seed never looked close to her best as she fell 6-4, 7-5 to the 76th-ranked McHale.
The defeat was the first time Wozniacki lost to an opponent outside the top 75 since 2009 and extends a worrying spell of form for the Dane.
Wozniacki, who suffered early-round exits in her last two tournaments, handed victory to McHale with an awfully-timed stroke which looped way over the baseline.
The 21-year-old heads to the US Open later this month in search of her first grand-slam title.
Serbian Ana Ivanovic’s disappointing season continued with a 6-3, 7-6 loss to Russia’s Nadia Petrova, but another Serbian former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic, enjoyed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over China’s Zheng Jie.
Germany’s Andrea Petkovic advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson.
REUTERS, MASON, OHIO
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga suffered a surprise defeat to qualifier Alex Bogomolov while Spain’s Rafael Nadal and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic passed their second-round tests at the Cincinnati Open on Wednesday.
France’s Tsonga, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon, fell to the 28-year-old Florida-based, Moscow-born Bogomolov 6-3, 6-4.
Bogomolov, who yet to win on the ATP Tour and ranked 50th, made a name for himself this year with a surprise win over Andy Murray in Miami and he now gets another shot at the Briton in the third round.
“I learned a lot about myself during that match just because it was a lot of pressure. It was my hometown. It was on the stadium where I grew up in Miami,” Bogomolov said.
“Now it’s a little bit different. It’s a third round of a Masters Series instead of a second round but we’re going to have the same game plan going in,” he said.
Djokovic moved his season record to 54-1 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Ryan Harrison.
Both Murray and Nadal suffered early exits at the Montreal Masters last week but there was little hint either would fall to the same fate on Wednesday.
Murray, the fourth seed, overcame a sluggish start to record a 6-4, 6-1 win over Argentine David Nalbandian, setting up a third-round match against Bogomolov.