Wimbledon 2018

Kvitova and Sharapova out

Title favourite Petra blames 1st-round loss on nerves while Maria says defeat not a disaster

LONDON • Aliaksandra Sasnovich said earlier this year that "everyone can beat everyone" and that "the tennis ball is round".

The unheralded Belarusian, ranked 50th in the world, proved she was right after she stunned Petra Kvitova 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 in the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

Maria Sharapova also exited after a shock 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 defeat by Vitalia Diatchenko.

Kvitova, who was the bookmakers' favourite to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish at the All England Club after an impressive return to form this year, admitted her desire for a third Wimbledon title had made her a bag of nerves.

"I'm sad. I wanted to win very badly, maybe too much. The nerves were there. I just tried to kind of fight with myself," the 28-year-old Czech star said.

"Probably I was the biggest opponent I could have. I didn't really have a clear mind. I was thinking a little bit too much.

"I think I didn't really care that much (about winning) before. I do care now. So probably that's why."


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    2nd rd: Milos Raonic (Can) bt John Millman (Aus) 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4), Sam Querrey (USA) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-3


    2nd rd: Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Victoria Azarenka (Blr) 6-3 6-3, Mihaela Buzarnescu (Rom) bt Katie Swan (Gbr) 6-0 6-3, Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) bt Andrea Petkovic (Ger) 6-4 6-3, Donna Vekic (Cro) bt Rebecca Peterson (Swe) 7-5 6-4, Evgeniya Rodina (Rus) bt Sorana Cirstea (Rom) 1-6 6-3 6-3, Madison Keys (USA) bt Luksika Kumkhum (Tha) 6-4 6-3.


Kvitova's early exit was especially unexpected, given she had won five titles this year, including the grass-court tournament at Birmingham last weekend, while amassing an WTA Tour-leading 38 match victories.

Not that her opponent was surprised. "Everyone is equal here; everyone wants to win," Sasnovich said. "Every day, you have to come and show your good tennis if you want a good result."

Sharapova has insisted she is not finished as a Grand Slam force despite losing to her compatriot, the world No. 132 Diatchenko.

"I have to take away the things that didn't work well for me and get back and work through those, look for my next opportunities," said Sharapova, whose fate was sealed against Diatchenko when she served up her 11th double fault.

Tuesday's loss was her first opening-round exit at a Grand Slam since Australia in 2010. Before that, her only other first-up losses came in her maiden season in Melbourne and Paris in 2003.

Sharapova - who decided not to play the Birmingham grass-court warm-up event - admitted, however, that the passing years pose a new challenge.

"I always find the transition from clay to grass has been a little bit tougher for me as I've gotten older," the 31-year-old said.

"That's just a matter of training, getting through the soreness in the first week or so. There's no perfect formula. At this moment, my competitive desire is not great."

Seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, meanwhile, won a battle of former No. 1s with Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round for the first time yesterday.

Defending men's champion Roger Federer took his streak of consecutive sets won at Wimbledon to 26 yesterday, reaching the third round with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Slovakia's Lukas Lacko.

The 36-year-old Swiss star fired 16 aces and 48 winners past world No. 73 Lacko.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2018, with the headline 'Kvitova and Sharapova out'. Subscribe