x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Wimbledon warmup goes awry for Bouchard while Halep cruises

Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard suffered a pre-Wimbledon setback on Tuesday, going out in the first round of the WTA Hertogenbosch Open, while Simona Halep continued her fine form.

Eugenie Bouchard plays a shot at the French Open on June 3, 2014l. Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP
Eugenie Bouchard plays a shot at the French Open on June 3, 2014l. Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

Rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard saw her pre-Wimbledon preparations go awry after losing to Vania King in the first round of the WTA/ATP‘s-Hertogenbosch Open on Tuesday, but there were no such problems for Simona Halep.

Former Wimbledon junior champion Bouchard, who pulled out of last week’s tournament in Birmingham after reaching the semi-finals of the French Open, was beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 by King, meaning she will arrive at next week’s tournament at the All England Club with just one grasscourt match under her belt this season.

The world No 13, who also made the last four of the Australian Open in January, raced through the opening set backed by a pair of service breaks.

But the 20-year-old was pegged back in the second set with American King, ranked 75th, capitalising on a lone break of serve.

Bouchard was forced to fend off a pair of break points at the start of the deciding set but the third seed came unstuck in her following service game as King made the vital breakthrough to take a 2-1 lead.

Bouchard had opportunities to pull herself back into the match as four break points came and went with the Canadian struggling to find her rhythm before King sealed the contest after just over two hours on court.

“I tried to get to the net more and take the ball earlier,” King said.

“I think by making myself try to come to the net more, I was more aggressive on all of my shots.”

Second seed Dominika Cibulkova was also sent tumbling out in the Netherlands after losing 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova.

“It was a tough match against a tough opponent,” said Shvedova, who next plays Dutch wildcard and 2006 winner Michaella Krajicek.

“It’s a good first match on grass for us and good preparation for Wimbledon. I’m glad we put on a good match in front of a lot of people.”

With the top players falling all around her Halep, the defending champion, made sure she didn’t add her name to the list of casualties.

The top-seeded Romanian brushed aside Belarusian Olga Govortsova 7-5, 6-2 in her first match since a narrow defeat to Maria Sharapova in the French Open final.

Halep, ranked a career-high third in the world following her Paris exploits, will face German youngster Annika Beck in the second round.

Her path to retaining the title seemingly became even more straightforward after fifth seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany was sent packing by Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5 in round two.

Roland Garros quarter-finalist Garbine Muguruza Blanco swept aside Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-4, 6-1 in her second-round match, while fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who also reached the last eight at the French Open, eased past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 6-2 in round one.

In the ATP event, second seed Fernando Verdasco, the highest-ranked player in the field following the withdrawal of compatriot David Ferrer, recovered from a slow start to beat Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round.

Spanish third seed Roberto Bautista Agut also breezed into the last-16 with a routine 6-1, 6-3 win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

However, Halle finalist Alejandro Falla was unable to repeat last week’s heroics as he was dumped out at the first hurdle by eighth seed Jurgen Melzer of Austria. His compatriot Alejandro Gonzalez also fell to Mate Pavic. Jan-Lennard Struff (d Lukas Rosol), Nicolas Mahut (d Kimmer Coppejans) and Joao Sousa (d Paolo Lorenzi) all earned wins.

At the Eastbourne Internationa tournament, Victoria Azarenka was reasonably satisfied after losing her first match in more than three months, a three-setter in the first round to Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Azarenka, the former No 1 recovered from a left foot injury, lost 6-4, 3-6, 5-7 after 2 hours, 46 minutes.

“That’s exactly what I wanted,” Azarenka said. “I wanted to have a competitive match. I wanted to test myself, to play for a long time, see how my body is going to react.

“I’m pretty pleased with what happened. Obviously the result is the result, but that’s a beginning. It’s a starting point. There are a lot of positive things that I can take from what happened today.”

Third seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia was also beaten, going down 6-3, 6-3 against American Madison Keys, and second seed Petra Kvitova also struggled before beating fellow Czech Lucie Safarova 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), winning the last five points to claim victory on her third match point.

Giorgi had previously demonstrated her grasscourt skills by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon as a qualifier in 2012, and she was a third-round finisher last year.

Azarenka won the first set from 4-2 down. Giorgi took a 5-0 lead in the second, saving five break points at 4-0. In the final set, Giorgi failed to serve out the match at 5-4, but broke again at 6-5 when Azarenka netted a backhand, and closed out the match at her second opportunity.

Despite her defeat, Azarenka believed she was almost ready to compete again at the highest level.

“I was really happy that I was there for every single moment, for every single ball,” she said. “I felt that my level of concentration was really high. I just have to get into that rhythm.”

In other matches, former champion Ekaterina Makarova defeated Italian qualifier Francesca Schiavone 7-5, 6-3, and seventh-seeded Italian Sara Errani was beaten 6-7 (5/7), 2-6 by American qualifier Lauren Davis.

There were also wins for sixth seed Flavia Pennetta, Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, Britain’s Johanna Konta and American Varvara Lepchenko.

In the ATP event, seventh seed Santiago Giraldo of Colombia was beaten 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 3-6 by Jarkko Nieminen of Finland. The other men’s winners were Donald Young (d James Ward), Julien Benneteau (d Yen-Hsun Lu) and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (d Andrey Kuznetsov).

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