Both reigning French Open champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova lost today in their respective tournaments. Nadal suffered his second straight loss to Italian Fabio Fognini losing to the Italian 6-4, 7-6(6).
“I think today I played really solid tennis,” said Fognini. “I was hitting the ball really well in both sets. The key of course was winning the second set. It would have been difficult playing him at one-set-all, especially the way I would have lost the second set, having had three match points.”
Nadal, who already has lost three matches on clay on the year, is still searching for the right mindset and confidence as the French Open nears.
“It was a disaster today,” Nadal bluntly admitted. “Fabio played better than me and he deserved to win. I didn’t deserve to win. Until I sort out the ups and downs I’m suffering from this season, I will continue to be vulnerable.
“I can only say goodbye to the tournament, one of the best ATP World Tour 500s in the world, and to the club, without doubt one of the best in the world, and that I will keep working hard to find my best tennis.”
Nadal will have a week off before his title defense in Madrid and then onto Rome.
Fognini advanced to the quarterfinals where he’ll meet Pablo Andujar.
While Spanish favorite Nadal lost, David Ferrer was victorious after overcoming a 4-0 hole in the second set to 19-year-old Elias Ymer to win 6-3, 6-4. Ferrer will face German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Top seed Kei Nishikori was also a winner, he’ll meet Roberto Bautista Agut. And Tommy Robredo will take on Martin Klizan.
In Bucharest, top-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils were winners, beating Janko Tipsarevic and Mikhail Youzhny, respectively.
“There are no easy matches,” said Monfils. “I was aggressive and I tried to keep my focus on every ball. I played very solid and I am happy with the win. This was my first match with Youzhny on clay and he is a good player. Anyone could win this tournament, but it will be wonderful if I win it after a good run in Monte-Carlo.”
And at the WTA event in Stuttgart, another French Open champion was eliminated when 3-time defending champion Sharapova lost to German Angelique Kerber in three sets 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
“We both played very well, high-level tennis,” Kerber said. “It felt amazing out there. The crowd was so supportive of both of us. I was a little bit tired in the second set but when I heard the crowd I was fighting until the last point – it was amazing to feel the support from all the fans here at home.
“It’s a special moment and a special tournament for me – to play at home and in front of all of my family and friends, it’s a great feeling. It’s my favorite tournament, and the best tournament for me.”
Kerber has won her last eight matches, Sharapova, who was 13-0 previously in Stuttgart, has lost three straight.
Sharapova wasn’t the only Grand Slam champion to lose on the day in Stuttgart. Reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova’s struggles continued losing to Madison Brengle 6-3, 7-6.
“I think that Madison played a solid match. She didn’t miss much and it was really difficult for me because when I had the opportunity for winners I missed,” Kvitova said. “The confidence wasn’t really high then and I didn’t feel physically there as well.
“I mean I was still tired probably from the Fed Cup. And on the clay you need to be physically ready for it. So, that was one of the reasons as well. I need to be still patient and I’m looking forward to next week which I’m going to use to practice on clay.”
Since winning her second round match at the Australian Open, Kvitova has gone just 4-4 with one win retirement from Jelena Jankovic in Doha and the other two in Fed Cup last weekend. This was her first WTA event since Doha.
“I didn’t practice on the clay because we had the Fed Cup on the hard courts,” the 25-year-old said. “So, I didn’t play on the clay until the Monday which was my first practice on the clay and, of course after Fed Cup it’s always difficult physically to be there and everything just on time. Yes, I need to find a little bit of timing and work on the physical part.”
Kvitova will have a week off to further practice on clay before the Madrid event.
Caroline Wozniacki and Carla Suarez Navarro also won, they’ll meet in the quarters tomorrow. Former French Open finalists Simona Halep and Sara Errani will also clash.
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