Second seed Caroline Wozniacki was dumped out of the US Open after a shock 6-4 6-2 loss to Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko on Thursday as the Dane’s second round woes continued at Flushing Meadows. The defeat marked the second consecutive year that Wozniacki, twice a US Open finalist and this year’s Australian Open champion, has failed to advance past this stage.
The second round has been a sore point for Wozniacki after her storming start to the season with the former world number one winning just once since Eastbourne in June, falling in the second round at Wimbledon and events in Montreal and Cincinnati. “I felt like I’d been practicing really well, playing really well for the week leading up to the tournament,” Wozniacki told reporters. “Obviously it wasn’t an ideal preparation.
“I usually play more matches and just kind of to get into the rhythm. But I felt like I did everything right under the circumstances.
“She (Tsurenko) played really well, and I was trying to find everything that I could today, but it just wasn’t going that way.” Wozniacki looked all business to start with, breaking Tsurenko at the first opportunity to jump 2-0 ahead, but the Dane could only hold serve once more during a scrappy opening set that was highlighted by five breaks.
Tsurenko, who called a medical timeout in the opening set to have work done on her right forearm, continued to receive massages during the second but had no issues finishing off Wozniacki in style, sweeping through the last four games. “I started off pretty well… but she was playing smarter than me,” Wozniacki admitted. “She played the game that I was supposed to be playing.”
Following world number one Simona Halep’s first round exit, defending champion Sloane Stephens remains the highest seed in the women’s draw at number three. Tsurenko, who had her best ever result at a Grand Slam by reaching the last 16 at Flushing Meadows in 2016, will next take on Czech Katerina Siniakova, a 6-3 6-7(3) 7-6(4) winner over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.
“I actually practiced with her (Siniakova) right before the beginning of the tournament,” Tsurenko said. “I’ve never played match against her.
“It will be a different game, for sure, than we had today.”
Angelique Kerber digs deep to dispatch Larsson in New York
Fourth seed Angelique Kerber fended off a comeback attempt by Johanna Larsson to dispatch the Swede 6-2 5-7 6-4 and punch her ticket to the third round of the US Open on Thursday. The match looked like it would be a cakewalk for the 2016 champion when she cruised through the first set and took a 5-2 lead in the second.
But the hot and humid conditions appeared to wear down the 30-year-old German, who dropped five consecutive games behind shaky serving and a raft of errors as Larsson raised her game. A 10-minute heat break ahead of the third set rejuvenated Kerber, who seized the momentum as she broke to take a 4-3 lead before smashing a forehand winner to end the 2-1/2-hour battle.
“I think we both really played on a really high level from the first point,” Kerber said. “It was just one or two points that decided the match.” The German said she struggled with fatigue but added that it was nothing new at the always challenging fourth and final Grand Slam of the year.
“It’s always a battle here, especially in these conditions,” she said. “You just have to take it point by point.” Next up is a third-round meeting with 29th-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, with Kerber having won seven of their 12 career meetings, most recently a straight-sets victory on the grass at the Eastbourne International this year.
Petra Kvitova topples Wang in second-round US Open clash
Hard-hitting Czech Petra Kvitova advanced to the third round of the US Open on Thursday, defeating China’s Yafan Wang 7-5 6-3 to keep her dream of winning a third Grand Slam title alive. The fifth seed converted five of seven break points and fired down four aces to send 24-year-old Wang packing in a match that lasted just under two hours on a hot and humid day at Flushing Meadows.
The match looked like it would be a one-sided affair when the twice Wimbledon champion raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set but Wang came roaring back to level the set at 5-5. Kvitova would not be denied, however, unleashing her powerful forehand and elevating her play to capture the final two games of the set before cruising to victory.
Next up for the Czech is a third-round meeting with 20-year-old number 26 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Kvitova won their only previous meeting in three sets on the hardcourts at the Miami Open this year.
Sharapova battles past Cirstea to set up Ostapenko clash
Maria Sharapova battled past unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2 7-5 at the U.S. Open on Thursday to set up a third round clash with Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko. Sharapova, who is seeded 22nd on her first appearance at Flushing Meadows since 2016, carved out a 3-0 first set lead despite making several mistakes early on and finished strongly with a dominant performance from the baseline.
Cirstea fought back with some hard hitting of her own, breaking the Sharapova serve in the first game of the second set and opening up a 4-2 lead before cracking under relentless pressure from the 2006 champion. The Romanian sent a forehand into the net to offer Sharapova a break point, and allowed the Russian to level at 4-4 with a double fault.
Both players exchanged further breaks of serve until Sharapova finally held to go 6-5 up, before piling pressure on her opponent as she served to stay in the match. Cirstea committed her fourth double fault to give the Russian two match points and conceded the contest with her 32nd unforced error, which Sharapova greeted with a fist-pumping celebration.
The former world number one, who beat Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder in the first round, has never lost a night session match at Flushing Meadows in 22 attempts. “Well, numbers are all relative, it’s really a nice accomplishment but it doesn’t win me any more Grand Slams,” Sharapova said courtside as the clock ticked past 1:00 a.m.
“There’s something about this court, something about New York, there’s something about this crowd. You have to be a little crazy to be here past midnight, so thank you.” Sharapova will resume her quest for a sixth Grand Slam crown against 10th seed Ostapenko, who beat American Taylor Townsend 4-6 6-3 6-4 earlier in the day.
“It only gets tougher from here,” the Russian added. “Being seeded in the 20s means you’re going to get grand slam winners in the third round, as I have. But I’m looking forward to it.”