September 24, 2018

Sasnovich stuns Kvitova in Wimbledon opener

06 July 2018, 03:25 | Pamela Mathis

Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova latest big names to fall in Wimbledon’s first round

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On the way, she played one of the most memorable matches of the tournament, a three-set thriller against Simona Halep, eventually going out to Venus Williams.

That includes two-time champion Petra Kvitova, who was sent home by Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 a few hours before 2004 titlist Sharapova folded against Vitalia Diatchenko in a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4 loss she seemingly controlled time and again before dropping the last three games.

The Roland Garros men's victor is also playing: Two-time champion Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a first Wimbledon title since 2010 against Dudi Sela of Israel.

Sharapova, back at SW19 after a two-year absence, served 10 double faults in her match against her fellow Russian, including the final point of the match.

Nerves jangled as the first set reached its climax and she could not find the shots to disturb the 31-year-old five-times Grand Slam victor in the tiebreak, which Sharapova won with an unreturnable serve.

The last time she lost in the opening round of a major was in 2010, when she was ousted by Maria Kirilenko at the Australian Open.

But that was before the All England Club catapulted Williams into the seedings, acknowledging her status as a leading contender for the title. She went up another break at 4-3.

"Sometimes", Sharapova said, "you put yourself in a better or winning position, and you don't finish".

Kvitova is the fourth top 10 women's seed to lose in the first round. Monday saw the exit of US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Top 5 stalwart Elina Svitolina. The Cypriot led 6-4 7-5 2-0 when Thiem called it quits with what appeared to be a back problem.

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Play is under way on Day 2 at Wimbledon.

Yeah, she was there to win it, and she did.' Sharapova also commented on her schedule in the previous weeks and months: 'I would have loved to have played Birmingham.

In 2011, Rafael Nadal was the runner-up as Novak Djokovic won the tournament.

Konta, meanwhile, defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6 (9-7) as she looks to repeat her fine run to the semi-finals a year ago.

"I definitely had several chances in the match. Probably I deserved it today", Sasnovich said as she notched her first grass court win in style after her big win over Kvitova.

But as was the case at the French Open, Sharapova had trouble holding on to the lead and this time paid the price. The Japanese progressed 6-4 6-1. Before that, her only other first-up losses came in her maiden season in Melbourne and Paris in 2003.

"For me at Wimbledon there are some nerves but I enjoyed every second and was going to make sure I fought very hard every point".

The win was just her second in the past four years in the main draw at Wimbledon. Konta, in contrast, has made a couple of runs deep into Grand Slam events in the last couple of years. And Cibulkova - a former grand slam finalist who has been ranked as high as No4 in the world - seemed to have calmed down a little when she spoke on Wednesday from the practice courts at Aorangi Park, perhaps as a result of scoring a fine first-round win over world No44 Alize Cornet, of France.

Kyrgios, seeded 15, hammered down 42 aces and unleashed 78 winners.

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