Tuesday, May 24, 2016

French Open Day 3 highlights: Kerber ousted, etc.

Angelique Kerber slugs a forehand during her victory over Karolina
Pliskova in the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last
August. Mal Taam/www.malt.photo
   Five highlights from Day 3 of the French Open:
   1. Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands upset third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round. In retrospect, it's not terribly surprising.
   Whereas Bertens swept the clay-court Nuremberg titles last week (qualifying in singles), Kerber was coming off two first-round losses on clay.
   Kerber won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last August and stunned Serena Williams in the Australian Open in January for her first Grand Slam title at age 28.
   Although Kerber has had some good results since Melbourne, it's natural to suffer a letdown after achieving a lifetime goal. In such cases, it often takes a year or more to regain intensity.
   2. Fifth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus retired with a right knee injury with Karin Knapp of Italy leading 6-3, 6-7 (6), 4-0. This, too, was less than shocking.
   Azarenka, the Bank of the West Champion in 2010, has battled injuries since winning the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013. She recovered to win Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back on hardcourts in March and April, but the grind took a toll.
   Azarenka withdrew from her third-round match in Madrid on clay earlier this month with a back injury and lost meekly in her Rome opener the following week.
   3. Second-seeded Andy Murray of Great Britain completed a 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 victory over 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
   The match was halted by darkness on Monday with Murray leading 4-2 in the fourth set.
   Murray and Stepanek won three titles combined in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, Calif. Murray captured the first of his 36 tour-level championships there at 18 in 2006 and repeated in 2007 in his only two appearances in the tournament. Stepanek triumphed in 2009 and reached a career-high No. 4 in 2012.
   4. Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams and fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal won easily.
   Djokovic, attempting to become the eighth man to earn a career Grand Slam, dismantled Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.
   Williams, trying to tie Steffi Graf for second place all-time with 22 major singles titles, demolished Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-0 in 44 minutes. Williams won the Bank of the West in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
   Nadal, seeking to become the first player in the Open era (since 1968) to win 10 singles titles in a Grand Slam tournament, dismissed Australian Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in 80 minutes.
   Groth is credited with the world's fastest serve, 163.7 mph (263.4 kph) in the 2012 Busan (South Korea) Challenger.
   5. Dmitry Tursunov, a 33-year-old Russian who trains in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, lost to 14th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
   The injury-prone Tursunov, who reached a career-high No. 20 in 2006, hadn't played a match since mid-April or won one since mid-March. His manager, Michael Gorin, wrote in an e-mail last week that "Dmitry is not at 100 percent" but would not elaborate.

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