Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Kvitova pulls out after freak mishap; Stephens advances

Petra Kvitova wrote that she fell during her
post-match news conference on Sunday and
hurt her ankle. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Apparently, post-match news conferences are dangerous not only mentally but physically.
   No. 11 seed Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, withdrew from the French Open today because of an ankle injury suffered not on the court but, she said, during her media session after her first-round victory over Greet Minnen on Sunday.
   "During my post-match press requirements on Sunday I fell and hurt my ankle," Kvitova wrote in a statement posted on social media.
    No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament on Monday amid controversy following her announcement last week that she would skip her mandatory post-match news conferences because of mental health issues. The four-time Grand Slam singles champion wrote on social media that she experiences "huge waves of anxiety" before meeting with the media and revealed that she has "suffered long bouts of depression" since the turbulent 2018 U.S. Open final.
   Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product who reached the 2018 French Open final who grew up in Fresno, Calif., defeated Carla Suarez Navarro, a 32-year-old Spaniard making her comeback from Hodgkin's lymphoma, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 in a first-round matchup of former top-10 players.
   Suarez Navarro, who won the doubles title in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford with compatriot Garbiñe Muguruza, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
   Stephens is scheduled to face No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova, who advanced to the French Open semifinals and climbed to No. 1 in 2017, on Thursday. Pliskova, the Bank of the West runner-up in 2015, eliminated Croatia's Donna Vekic, a semifinalist in San Jose, Calif., in 2019, 7-5, 6-4. 
   Stephens is 3-1 against Pliskova, but the Czech won their only clay-court encounter 6-2, 6-3 in the third round at altitude in Madrid in May 2018. The pair are set to meet for the first time since October 2018.
   In a first-round men's match, No. 24 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia dispatched Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old qualifier from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.    
   In the Australian Open in February, the 114th-ranked Karatsev became the first player in the Open Era to reach the semifinals in his Grand Slam main-draw debut, the first qualifier to advance to a major semifinal since Vladimir Voltchkov at Wimbledon in 2000 and the lowest-ranked Grand Slam semifinalist since No. 125 Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.
   Brooksby, who was making his French Open main-draw debut, will improve 11 places in the world rankings to No. 152 only five months after turning pro. He was ranked No. 310 at the beginning of the year.
   Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff, the runner-up in Munich on clay five weeks ago, took out No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, breaking the 23-year-old Russian's streak of three consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals.

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