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.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in