Thu, Nov 02, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Slovakia’s No. 1 downs top seed

AFP and Reuters, ZHUHAI, China

Magdalena Rybarikova returns to Kristina Mladenovic yesterday in Zhuhai, China.

Photo: AFP

Slovakia’s No. 1 Magdalena Rybarikova yesterday beat top seed Kristina Mladenovic at the WTA Elite Trophy in a tight match at the round-robin tournament.

Rybarikova, who reached her maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon this year, overcame French star Mladenovic 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5) in 2 hours and 48 minutes at the Hengqin International Tennis Center in Zhuhai.

The Slovakian, making her debut in the city, is ranked 22nd in the world, a career high.

Twenty-four-year-old Mladenovic is the No. 1 seed at the season-ending tournament, ranked at a career-high No. 10.

The round-robin format means she still has a chance to qualify for the semis.

However, her first match loss in Zhuhai follows another upset by Croatian Jana Fett at the Japan Women’s Open in September, where she was also top seed.

It comes despite her reaching the semi-finals at Indian Wells earlier in the year — a result that saw her break into the world top 20 for the first time in her career, temporarily overtaking Caroline Garcia as French No. 1.

Meanwhile, American Coco Vandeweghe kicked off the tournament on Tuesday with a dramatic comeback win, seeing off home wild-card Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round-robin match of the Bougainvillea Group.

After dropping her serve twice in the opening set, Vandeweghe rediscovered her rhythm and fired five of her six aces over the course of the next two sets.

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist dropped only five points on her serve in the decider to collect her first win of the tournament.

“Today was a survive-and-conquer kind of day. I really was playing not so well, very below average for the standard that I’m used to playing and competing at,” second seed Vandeweghe told reporters.

“I think it was just a matter of focusing on the next point at hand and just moving forward. It’s a tough part of the year and it’s a tough event,” she added.

Fourth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova opened her campaign with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Rose Group.

The 26-year-old Russian rallied back from an early break down in the final set to continue her impressive run in Asia, after a runner-up finish in Tokyo followed by her third title of the year in Hong Kong last month.

Germany’s Julia Georges held off a late charge from Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia to win 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in the first match of the Azalea Group.

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