Svitolina, Zverev shocked as injured Serena withdraws

May 16, 2019

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ROME: Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina plays a forehand return to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their Italian Open match at the Foro Italico.—AFP
ROME: Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina plays a forehand return to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their Italian Open match at the Foro Italico.—AFP

ROME: Two-time women’s holder Elina Svitolina crashed out of the WTA and ATP Italian Open on Tuesday along with Germany’s Alexander Zverev while Serena Williams had to pull out with a recurring knee injury.

Serena had beaten Swede Rebecca Peterson in straight sets on Monday and was due to face sister Venus but the injury means her participation at the May 26-June 9 French Open is in doubt.

Her withdrawal sends Venus, the 1999 winner, through to a third-round meeting with either Britain’s Johanna Konta or US seventh seed Sloane Stephens.

Svitolina — who had a first round bye as fifth seed — held a match point at 5-2 in the third set before slumping 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to Belarus Victoria Azarenka in a 2hr 14min battle at the Foro Italico which was twice interrupted because of rain.

Azarenka set up a meeting former French Open winner Garbine Muguruza or Danielle Collins for a place in the third round.

Collins advanced past former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who retired with a lower leg injury, after losing the first set 7-6 (7-5).

Czech fourth seed Karolna Pliskov eased through to the third round along with Australian Ashleigh Barty, the eighth seed who had to work hard for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktoria Kuzmova.

Kristina Mladenovic cruised past French compatriot Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-2 in their first round clash and French qualifier Alize Cornet beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-4. Maria Sakkari and Carla Suarez Navarro also advanced.

In the men’s competition, world number five Zverev, the 2017 winner and runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year in Rome, extended his terrible clay-court run, falling 7-5, 7-5 to Italian wild card Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

Belgian David Goffin rallied from a set down to beat former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Argentine seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the third round.

Ninth seed Marin Cilic beat Italian wild card Andrea Basso 6-1, 7-5 as Australian Nick Kyrgios struck 15 aces and 41 winners to get past Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to book a second-round clash with Norwegian Casper Ruud.

Portugal’s Joao Sousa saved four match points before beating Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4) to set up a meeting with Roger Federer, who made a late decision to play in Rome because he wants more matches .

Others advancing included Karen Khachanov, American qualifier Taylor Fritz, Radu Albiot, Jeremy Chardy and Diego Schwartzman.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019