Thu, Aug 08, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Top-ranked Barty bounced from Rogers Cup

AFP, MONTREAL

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty returns to Sofia Kenin of the US in their Rogers Cup women’s singles match at the Aviva Centre in Toronto on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday crashed out of Rogers Cup in Toronto, falling in three sets in her second-round opener to 29th-ranked Sofia Kenin of the US.

Australia’s Barty, the French Open champion who was competing for the first time since a fourth-round exit at Wimbledon, battled back from an early break to take the opening set, but she was unable to do the same in the next two sets as 20-year-old Kenin triumphed 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4.

“It just wasn’t there today,” Barty said. “At times I was missing by big margins, which is not something that I’m very used to, or comfortable with.”

The defeat puts Barty’s No. 1 ranking in jeopardy, with both Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic eyeing the top spot.

Yesterday, world No. 2 Osaka was to open her campaign against Germany’s Tatjana Maria, and if the Japanese star won there will be a new No. 1 next week.

Osaka is the front-runner to return to the summit, but Pliskova could have a chance if she makes the semi-finals.

“I couldn’t tell what’s going on with the rankings,” Barty said. “It’s not something that I worry about or focus on. Regardless of whether it’s No. 10, No. 50, 200 or No. 1 — it’s just a number next to your name.”

Pliskova next faces US qualifier Alison Riske, who saved three match points on the way to a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (9/7) victory over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Croatia’s Donna Vekic also saved three match points on the way to a 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) win over Madison Keys of the US.

However, there was no coming back for seventh-seeded Sloane Stephens of the US, who fell 6-2, 7-5 to qualifier Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.

Bouzkova, ranked 91st in the world, notched her first win over a top-50 player.

“I honestly still can’t believe it,” said Bouzkova, who broke Stephens five times — taking full advantage of the former US Open champion’s 48 unforced errors.

Stephens will now try to regroup with the US Open fast approaching, as will Barty, who insisted after her defeat that “it’s not panic stations.”

Kenin, who has climbed the rankings this season with wins in Charleston and Mallorca and a runner-up finish in Acapulco, notched her first victory over a top-five player in her fourth attempt.

Teenager Bianca Andreescu won her first match since Roland Garros, rallying to beat former world No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in an all-Canadian first-round clash that lit up the night session.

Andreescu, 19, shot to prominence with her triumph at Indian Wells in March, but she has battled a nagging shoulder injury since and was playing her first match since the French Open.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Andreescu said. “But I’ve been preparing really well for the last couple weeks, and that preparation really showed tonight.”

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Australia’s Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday crashed back to earth with a first-round loss at the Rogers Cup, falling 6-3, 6-4 to Britain’s Kyle Edmund.

Two days after winning the Citi Open title in Washington with a burst of consistent form, the Australian court jester was unable to maintain momentum in a match delayed for 90 minutes in the second set by light rain.

“I’m a little bit tired. Physically, I actually feel like I’m OK,” Kyrgios said after losing in 67 minutes of actual play. “Kyle played well, served well and didn’t really give me any rhythm into the match.”

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