Sunday, August 23, 2020

Top seeds Pliskova, Kenin ousted in W&S Open

Second-seeded Sofia Kenin, who won the Australian
Open in January, lost to Alize Cornet of France 6-1,
7-6 (7) today in the second round of the Western &
Southern Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. 2018
photo by Paul Bauman 
The top two seeds lost today in the second round of the Western & Southern Open.

Not coincidentally, both were playing their first match since the WTA Tour shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Karolina Pliskova, seeded first at No. 3 in the world, fell to Veronika Kudermetova, a 23-year-old Russian ranked No. 41, 7-5, 6-4 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. 

Sofia Kenin, seeded second at No. 4, survived three match points before succumbing to Alize Cornet, a 30-year-old Frenchwoman ranked No. 60, 6-1, 7-6 (7). 

Cornet, who shocked Serena Williams in the third round at Wimbledon in 2014, had two match points serving at 5-2, 40-15 in the second set before Kenin, 21, reeled off four consecutive games. 

Pliskova, the runner-up in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and 2016 U.S. Open, and Kenin, who won Northern California Challengers in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the Australian Open in January, received first-round byes.

Also today, one qualifier from the San Francisco Bay Area won but another lost.

CiCi Bellis, a 21-year-old San Francisco native who grew up down the peninsula in Atherton, edged qualifier Oceane Dodin of France 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (1) in the first round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. 

Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the East Bay, fell to qualifier Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the Los Angeles area 7-6 (2), 7-5 in a first-round matchup of diminutive former NCAA singles champions from UCLA.

The Western & Southern Open, normally held in the Cincinnati area, moved to Flushing Meadows to form a bubble with the U.S. Open because of the COVID-19 pandemic. No fans are allowed at either tournament.

Both Bellis, the 2017 WTA Newcomer of the Year, and McDonald, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018, are now based at the USTA National Campus in the Orlando, Fla., area and rebounding from surgery. 

Bellis, a 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) right-hander, sat out for 20 months from March 2018 to November 2019 while undergoing three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow. McDonald had hamstring surgery in June 2019 and missed the rest of the year. 

Bellis is scheduled to face Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka, seeded fifth and ranked 11th, for the first time on Monday at about 2 p.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). Sabalenka, the runner-up to Zheng Saisai of China in San Jose, Calif., last August, received a first-round bye.

Sloane Stephens' slump continued as the 27-year-old wild card, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., lost to Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 7-6 (4) in a matchup for former top-five players. Stephens, playing at the site of her 2017 U.S. Open title (although not the same court), fell to 1-7 this year.

Jessica Pegula, the runner-up in the 2012 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger at age 18, eliminated Jennifer Brady, who won her first WTA title last week in Lexington, Ky., 7-6 (2), 6-4 in an all-American clash.

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