French Open champion Ana Ivanovic produced a maddeningly inconsistent display as she was stunned by Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 at the Italian Open WTA on Wednesday.
World No. 1 Dinara Safina almost joined Ivanovic on the scrap-heap, but she fought back from a double break down in the third set to beat Chinese 14th seed Zheng Jie 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
Fifth seed Ivanovic had a disastrous start but she regrouped and seemed to be cruising into the quarter-finals at 4-0 up in the third set after a run of winning 10 out of 13 games.
But just as her first set play had been terribly inconsistent, so her demons returned and 10th seed Radwanska reeled off the final six games to clinch the match.
Ivanovic, who has struggled with injury and form since her success at Roland Garros last June, has not won a tournament this year and reached only one final.
And this performance was typical of her erratic recent form, poor to begin with, then back in the swing of things before losing her touch again at the end.
Radwanska will face fourth seed Venus Williams in the last eight after the American labored to a 6-0, 6-7 (8/10), 6-4 win over unseeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze in two hours, 20 minutes.
The first set lasted only 23 minutes and world No. 5 Venus looked like she would stroll through, but Chakvetadze is a former world No. 5 herself and she gritted her teeth and fought back to take the five-time Wimbledon champion to the brink.
Safina, meanwhile, struggled to victory in two-and-a-half hours but came close to losing a see-saw match. She was broken four times in the first set before romping away with the second.
She was broken again in the opening game of the decider and when she was broken again for the seventh time in the match to go down 5-2, it looked as if an upset was on the cards.
But the top seeded Russian knuckled down and ground her way back into the match to force a tie-break.
Reigning two-time champion Jelena Jankovic barely had to break sweat as she coasted into the quarter-finals when Kateryna Bondarenko retired with an illness with the Serbian leading 6-1, 1-0.
AFP, ESTORIL, PORTUGAL
American James Blake gained a much-needed boost to his clay court campaign on Wednesday at the Estoril Open as he won his first match on the surface this season.
The world No. 16 defeated Portugal’s No. 1 player Federico Gil, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, requiring a comeback and nearly two hours to bring his record for this year on the dirt to 1-2 as he reached the second round.
Nikolay Davydenko, the second seed, won his second match in as many days, defeating ailing former clay court master Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-2.
Spaniard Oscar Hernandez knocked out struggling third seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4.
In women’s WTA play, Slovak Jarmila Groth upset top seed Iveta Benesova 7-5, 6-4, while defending champion Maria Kirilenko, the No. 2, stayed in the chase for another title, reaching the last eight with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Argentine Maria Salerni. The five other seeds on court all won their matches into the last eight.
Marin Cilic of Croatia won the first eight games and swept past Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-0, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the BMW Open.
Mikhail Youzhny of Russia upset third-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (2), 6-4.
Sixth-seeded Nicolas Kiefer of Germany was also upset, losing to Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 7-6 (8).
AP, BELGRADE, SERBIA
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic beat fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Serbia Open, the country’s first ever ATP Tour event.
Djokovic will next face another Serb in fifth-seeded Victor Troicki, who beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-3, 6-4.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday said that he has never “put the Olympics first,” the same day an opinion poll showed that nearly 60 percent of people in Japan want the Olympics canceled less than three months before they begin. Japan has extended a state of emergency in Tokyo until the end of the month and is struggling to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases, raising further questions about whether the Games should go on. Its vaccination rate is the lowest among wealthy nations. International Olympic officials, Tokyo planners and Suga have insisted that the Games would go on in “a
Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) secretary-general Fang Ching-jen yesterday touted the success of the Taiwan Business Bank Taiwan Futsal League after Chiayi Tienching on Sunday displayed their all-conquering form and collected the championship trophy with a 5-2 win over YTFC at the Pingtung County Stadium. Since January, when the season began, Chiayi Tienching scored a perfect 10 wins off 10 games to collect 30 points. Taichung Traveler were second, finishing on 22 points with seven wins, two losses and one draw, while CTFA U20 were third on 17 points with five wins, three losses and two draws. In the season’s final round on
Japanese nurse Arisa Tsubata has trained around her work shifts for more than a year to prepare for a final Olympic boxing qualifier in the hope of making it to the Tokyo Games this summer. That dream was shattered after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) canceled the boxing qualifier to take place next month and said it would allocate spots to athletes based on their world rankings. The change in criteria has effectively shut the door on many Olympic hopefuls such as Tsubata, whose rankings are not good enough to earn them an automatic qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Other qualifying
A traveling call against the Knicks’ Julius Randle with seconds to go gave possession to the Lakers, letting Talen Horton-Tucker put up his game-winner Talen Horton-Tucker on Tuesday drained a clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers snatched a thrilling 101-99 victory over the New York Knicks. Horton-Tucker’s effort with 21.1 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Lakers and prevented the Knicks from clinching their first playoff appearance since 2013. It was the dramatic final act of a pulsating clash at the Staples Center, which saw the Knicks’ Julius Randle, a former Lakers player, dominate for long periods with a 31-point performance. Randle looked to have given the Knicks the edge with a superb three-pointer of his own, which put