Defending champion Konta, Williams exit Sydney International

Thursday, 11 January 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Sydney (Reuters): Defending champion Johanna Konta was bundled out in the first round of the Sydney International by Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams also lost in her first match of the tournament on Tuesday.

Radwanska, overpowered in 82 minutes by Konta in last year’s final, raced to a 6-3 7-5 victory over the Briton at the Olympic Tennis Centre.

Neither player was able to dominate on service in the first set and Konta won just two of her 11 second serve points as Radwanska converted three of her five break opportunities.

Konta again had trouble holding serve in the second set but showed signs of a fightback when she broke while trailing 4-1, but she could not push on as Radwanska sealed victory in one hour, 49 minutes.

Second seed Williams was beaten 5-7 6-3 6-1 by Germany’s Angelique Kerber in under two hours.

Kerber started the first set stronger and looked to have Williams on the ropes when she opened up a 5-3 lead and created two set points on the American’s serve before Williams rallied.

The seven-times grand slam champion survived the Kerber onslaught with an ace and a forehand winner and, with her confidence restored, took the first set.

But Kerber fought back strong as Williams struggled with her service.

The German levelled the match at a set apiece and raced into a 5-0 lead in the decider before Williams rallied again, but the American succumbed to the inevitable on her fifth match point, sending a backhand return wide.

Konta’s first-round loss continued some worrying early season performances for the 26-year-old world number nine.

She struggled last week in Brisbane before withdrawing from her quarter-final with a hip injury.

Radwanska, who was upset by American qualifier Sachia Vickery in the Auckland quarter-finals last week, meets American qualifier Catherine Bellis in the second round in Sydney while Kerber faces Dominika Cibulkova in the quarter-finals.


Muguruza suffers second injury withdrawal Down Under


Sydney (Reuters): Garbine Muguruza’s preparations for next week’s Australian Open were thrown into disarray when the world number three pulled out of the Sydney International due to a leg injury on Wednesday.

Hours after battling past Kiki Bertens 6-3 7-6(6) to advance to the quarter-finals in her opening match, the 24-year-old Spanish top seed withdrew with a right thigh complaint.

“I am disappointed but I have talked to the WTA doctors and my team after the match and following their recommendation, I have to withdraw from the tournament,” Muguruza said in a statement.

“I have felt pain in my right adductor since I started practising here. Yesterday, I felt better and wanted to play. However, during the match today the pain has been there all the time but I wanted to compete.”

The Wimbledon champion accepted a wildcard into the tournament after retiring with leg cramps during her opening match at the Brisbane International last week and called for a medical timeout after just three games against Bertens.

Muguruza, however, returned to the Ken Rosewall Arena and appeared to be moving freely, initially allaying fears of another injury setback by overcoming a woman who had beaten her in straight sets in their three previous meetings. Muguruza’s withdrawal allows Daria Gavrilova a direct route to the semi-finals after the Spaniard’s scheduled last eight opponent won an all-Australian clash against Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-2.

Elsewhere, Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2013 champion and last year’s losing finalist in Sydney, kept her preparations for the year’s first grand slam on track with a 7-6(4) 6-0 win over teenage American qualifier CiCi Bellis. The Polish 28-year-old will meet Camila Giorgi for a place in the last four after the Italian qualifier ousted twice Wimbledon and former Sydney champion Petra Kvitova 7-6(7) 6-2.

Giorgi, belying her ranking of 100th in the world, beat U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round and added another grand slam champion to her list of victims in just under two hours when Kvitova blasted a forehand wide.

In the men’s draw, Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi ousted top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in the second round.

Ramos-Vinolas needed treatment for a leg problem early in the second set and fell 6-3 7-5 to the 36-year-old Lorenzi, who is ranked 45 in the world.