It was another surprising day of play in the women’s draw at Wimbledon. Monday saw the exit of US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Top 5 stalwart Elina Svitolina. On Tuesday, tournament favorite Petra Kvitova and former champion Maria Sharapova both crashed out in three sets.
Kvitova, who came into the tournament with the WTA lead in match wins (38) and titles (5), crumbled early on against the unheralded Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich who hadn’t won a match on grass in a year.
Kvitova got back on track in the second but the pressure and nerves got the best of her and the 24-year-old rolled to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 stunner.
“The reason probably is I want it too much,” Kvitova said.
“Just didn’t feel well obviously. [It] was a first round. The nerves were there again. I don’t know. I just tried to kind of fight with myself — probably was the biggest opponent which I have.”
“I tried,” Kvitova added. “I changed it in the second set when I got an early break. In the third, I think it was just too quickly when [Sasnovich] was on the board, and I just couldn’t handle it any more.”
The Czech suffers her earliest Wimbledon loss since 2009.
“I don’t want to break down anyway,” Kvitova said. “As I said, I already won the biggest match of my life and career, so it was, like, more than one Grand Slam.”
Joining Kvitova on the upset ledger was 2004 champion Maria Sharapova. Sharapova served for the match in the second against countrywoman Vitalia Diatchenko but couldn’t close it out. And the qualifier Diatchenko took advantage, clawed back into the set and won it 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-4 in 3 hours, 8 minutes.
Twenty double faults and 13 breaks of serve marred the match.
“She swung away,” Sharapova said. “She played extremely aggressive. I was playing a little bit too defensively for what I should have been doing. She was there to win it, and she did.
“I definitely had several chances in the match,” Sharapova added. “Although not playing my best tennis, I opened up a few doors and was a couple points away from winning this match. Kept, you know, doing that in the third, as well. But just, you know, sometimes you put yourself in a better or winning position, and you don’t finish through. That was the case today.”
Another Top 10 seed also was dropped as steady Caroline Garcia was eliminated by former Top 10 Belinda Bencic 76(2), 6-3 in a mild upset.
All told, a Wimbledon Open Era record four of the Top 10 seeds were eliminated in the first round.
Finding form were Indian Wells champ Noami Osaka, former finalist Angelique Kerber, Elise Mertens, Johanna Konta and Jelena Ostapenko.
Defending champion Garbine Muguruza wasn’t at her best but good enough to deny Brit hope Naomi Broady 6-2, 7-5. World No. 1 Simona Halep looked good in her first match since taking the French, blasting past Karumi Nara 6-2, 6-4. And former finalist Eugenie Bouchard won her fourth match – after qualifying – getting through wildcard Gabriella Taylor 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.
On Wednesday, former champions Serena and Venus Williams return to action. Karolina Pliskova meets 2-time Slam winner Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, Madison Keys and Agnieszka Radwanska are also in action.
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