Eugenie Bouchard’s poor run of form continued as the Canadian suffered a first-round exit at the hands of Australia’s Ashleigh Barty at the Miami Open. Wildcard Barty’s 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 win sets up an all-Australian clash in the second round of the WTA hardcourt event against 14th seed Samantha Stosur.
But for the 23-year-old Bouchard, a former world number five who has slumped to 56th in the rankings, it was another blow after her first-round exit in Indian Wells. “It has been a bit of a struggle,” said a stone-faced Bouchard, who was unable to account for her loss of form.
Bouchard was a beaten finalist at Wimbledon in 2014 but, apart from a run to the semi-final at Sydney where she was beaten by Britain’s Johanna Konta, she has been unable to make an impact this year. Barty reproduced the gutsy tennis that helped her secure her maiden WTA title at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur last month.
“We’ve had a good pre-season and get a good foundation and the stars aligned a bit for us this year so far. We have worked hard and it is just that hard work starting to pay off,” said the Australian.
The 20-year-old, who took time out from tennis in 2014 to play cricket, has never come up against her compatriot Stosur before and while she will start as clear underdog, she is relishing the challenge. “It will be good. Obviously we have trained together and hit a lot so it will be interesting. I am really excited. For me it is just another opportunity to go out and play,” she said.
Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic was another high-profile early exit, the 2008 Miami finalist falling 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) to Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova. Local favorite and Rio Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig was comfortably dealt with 6-2, 6-4 by Romanian Sorana Cirstea. The Puerto Rican Miami-resident struggled from the outset and although she battled back well in the second set, Cirstea kept her cool to book a second round meeting with Latvian 19th seed Anastasija Sevastova. Britain’s Heather Watson, who reached the fourth round in Miami last year, was beaten 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 by Romanian qualifier Patricia Maria Tig.
Ernesto Escobedo upsets Dan Evans in the men’s draw
Young American Ernesto Escobedo pulled off a surprise victory in three sets over Britain’s Dan Evans in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday. The 20-year-old Mexican-American, who grew up playing on rough public courts in Los Angeles, is playing in his first
ATP Masters 1000 series event, having qualified with a straight-sets win over Argentine Renzo Olivo on Tuesday.
Escobedo, ranked 108th, beat the 43rd ranked Evans 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 at Crandon Park thanks mainly to his strong first serve, which included 10 aces. “This day is very special for me. I qualified for my first Masters 1000 here in Miami and I played a tricky opponent who serves pretty well. It is pretty big to get my first win here,” Escobedo said.
“I started pretty slow but once I broke back I felt pretty comfortable and kept patient. In the second set, I just didn’t focus at all and my energy was very low but I am just happy to have stepped it up in the third set.”
Escobedo will now face 25th-seed Fernando Verdasco in the second round and he can expect plenty of support from a strongly Hispanic South Florida crowd. For Evans, it was another setback after he went out in the second round at Indian Wells. “He played pretty well. I needed to get on top early in the third set and I think he would have gone away but I didn’t,” said Evans.
“I have been serving poorly for a little bit and I wasn’t winning my points on my second serve,” said the Englishman, who was given a penalty point for bad language and racket abuse and also had a verbal exchange with a fan at one stage. There was more US success against British opposition when qualifier Jared Donaldson outlasted 45th-ranked Kyle Edmund 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2. Edmund served for the match at 5-3 in the second set and then had three match points in the following game.
Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka triumped in a two-hour battle with Australia’s Jordan Thompson. Nishioka, who reached the fourth round at Indian Wells last week, saved 11 of 14 break points to secure the 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory. France’s Benoit Paire beat Slovak Martin Klizan 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 to earn a second-round challenge with 21st seed Pablo Cuevas. There was an unusual stoppage during German veteran Tommy Haas’s narrow 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-5 loss to Czech Jiri Vesely when the game was halted due to an iguana on top of the scoreboard. The creature was eventually taken away by officials, but not before it scampered across the court.