Tue, Jul 03, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Rybarikova and Stephens stunned at Wimbledon

AP and AFP, LONDON

Romania’s Sorana Cirstea returns to Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in their Wimbledon women’s singles first-round match in London yesterday.

Photo: AP

Last year’s semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova yesterday became the first seeded player to exit Wimbledon as the grass-court Grand Slam got underway in London

The Slovakian 19th seed fell to a 7-5, 6-3 defeat to Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Rybarikova exceeded expectations by reaching the sem-finals last year, where she was beaten by eventual champion Garbine Muguruza.

After winning a grass-court tournament in Birmingham last month, she appeared to be well set for another deep run at the All England Club in London.

Cirstea equaled her career-best effort by reaching the third round at Wimbledon last year, where she was also beaten by Muguruza.

She next faces Evgeniya Rodina of Russia or Antonia Lottner of Germany.

Sloane Stephens became the first big-name casualty when the world No. 4 crashed to a shock 6-1, 6-3 defeat against Croatia’s Donna Vekic.

Stephens was expected to mount a strong challenge at the All England Club after winning her maiden Grand Slam crown at the US Open last year and finishing as French Open runner-up last month, but the 25-year-old American, who has been in fine form since returning from foot surgery last year, had only gone past the Wimbledon third round once in six previous visits.

She was beaten in the first round last year and maintained her poor record on grass with another limp display against world No. 55 Vekic on Court One.

Vekic, who sealed the upset on her fourth match point, faces Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova or Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the second round.

In the men’s singles, eight-time champion Roger Federer breezed into the second round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

Top seed Federer, sporting gear designed by Uniqlo after a two-decade link with Nike, next faces either Lukas Lacko of Slovakia or French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi.

Federer, who beat Marin Cilic in last year’s final, is playing Wimbledon for a 20th straight year.

Cilic also easily advanced to the second round with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

The Croatian third seed hit 21 aces and a total of 44 winners — compared with one ace and six winners for Nishioka — to complete the victory in 1 hour, 46 minutes.

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