Lesia Tsurenko ousted defending champion Garbine Muguruza and Aryna Sabalenka defeated No.9 Karoline Pliskova for the second straight time to reach the third round at Western & Southern Open. Making her third appearance in Cincinnati, Tsurenko shocked 2-6 6-4 6-4 No.7 seed Muguruza coming from a break down in the deciding set to complete her sixth Top 10 win in her career, after the five she posted in 2015 over No.7 Bouchard and No.10
Petkovic (Indian Wells), No.9 Muguruza (Toronto), No.8 Karolina Pliskova (New Haven) and No.6 Safarova (US Open).
Since then, she went 0-11 with Top 10 players, including two losses against the Spaniard at 2017 Wuhan (when ranked No.1) and at 2018 Roland Garros (when ranked No.3). In her maiden match since the second round loss at Wimbledon to Alison Van Uytvanck, Muguruza suffered the fourth loss after first-round byes in 2018, after the defeats to Vickery (Indian Wells), Pavlyuchenkova (Stuttgart) and Gavrilova (Rome), hours after announcing her decision to team with veteran David Ferrer in a strong Spanish pairing at the Hopman Cup mixed teams tennis tournament in Perth from December 29.
Muguruza and Ferrer will attempt to give Spain its fifth Hopman Cup win. “I’m looking forward to Perth and to play there. I’ve heard so many things about Hopman Cup, chatting about it to other Spanish people that went, and they say it’s magic,” Muguruza said.
In the decider she went 2-0 up as Tsurenko served three double faults, but three unforced errors and the ninth double fault on her own made Muguruza give the break back at 3-4. Tsurenko raised her level while the Spaniard sent a forehand long, her 43rd unforced error of the day, to put an end to the match.
The victory provided some measure of revenge for Tsurenko, who retired hurt just two games into her round of 16 match with Muguruza at this year’s French Open. Next up for Tsurenko is a clash with Ekaterina Makarova as the Russian topped Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-2 6-0.
The Russian leads 2-1 in the head to head series although the Ukrainian won the latest clash at 2017 Roland Garros. Makarova, however, cinched her victories in the two meetings on harcourts at 2011 Australian Open and 2016 Miami.
Aryna Sabalenka saved two match points to defeat Karolina Pliskova 2-6 6-3 7-5 in just under two hours. The Belarusian sealed 13 aces to complete her ninth comeback win of the season against the Czech who, despite the defeat, maintained a very good 11-3 record in 3-set matches this season.
"I think it's just too much changes and I just don't want to have any Czech people around me anymore" said yesterday Pliskova, talking about her choice to call back Rennae Stubbs on a consultant basis starting from this tournament.
At Eastbourne, Pliskova admitted, "I lost but I lost because of me. But of course she improved. She beat Wozniacki last week. I just saw couple scores. She can be dangerous. She has a good game. She's young, so she's not really scared.
She's not defending anything. She can be dangerous, for sure". Sabalenka, approaching her 180th ace this season, will face No.6 seed Caroline Garcia awaits in her next match. “It’s going to be my first match against Garcia, it’ll be very interesting to play against her” she said.
Also US Open champion Sloane Stephens reached the third round as she enjoyed a routine 6-3 6-2 win over German Tatjana Maria. Stephens, who finished runner-up to world number one Simona Halep in Montreal on Sunday, continued her fine form on the North American hard courts and controlled the tempo throughout her 71-minute match.
Stephens will next face for the first time No.15 seed Elise Mertens after the Belgian earned a 3-6 6-2 7-6(1) win over Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson, left to regret the six unconverted games and the eight missed break point chances in the match.
Mertens extended her 6-4 record in final set tiebreaks to clinch the sixth comeback win of the season, and will now bids for her third victory in her last eight clashes against Top 10 players. Australian No.1 Ashleigh Barty has continued her fine form on the North American hard courts as she reached the third round of the Cincinnati Open with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi.