World No. 2 Angie Kerber led a tremendous seeded exit on Wednesday at Rome, losing in the second round to Canadian Genie Bouchard 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.
“I did feel like I was playing better tennis today, especially at the beginning,” Bouchard said. “That’s how I want to play. That gives me confidence knowing I can play that way against one of the best players in the world.”
Kerber, “one of the best players in the world,” since winning the Australian Open has lost her opening rounds at Doha, Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome.
Other second-round losers were No. 4 Victoria Azarenka upset by Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2; No. 5 Petra Kvitova stopped by Madison Keys 6-3, 6-4; No. 6 Simona Halep tripped by Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3; No. 7 Roberta Vinci beat by Johanna Konta 6-0, 6-4; No. 10 Lucie Safarova ousted by Misaki Doi 6-3, 7-5; No. 12 Venus Williams stalling out against Timea Babos 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4; and American qualifier Christina McHale shocking former No. 1 and No. 13 seed Ana Ivanovic 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-1.
“The first couple of years were very difficult for me [on clay],” said Keys, who will next meet the Venus Williams-killer Babos after topping Kvitova. “I never really played on red clay growing up. I think every year is a little more experience, and I’m feeling more comfortable.”
Halep bemoaned the conditions after losing to Gavrilova, who will next face No. 9 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-4.
“Maybe if it wouldn’t rain, maybe I would have played better,” Halep said. “But that’s it. I cannot change anything. If it’s raining, it’s raining. If I lose, you lose. I won a lot of matches last week, so I don’t give up now that I lost one match.”
Begu downed an injured Azarenka, and will next meet Russian Daria Kasatkina, who beat qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino 6-2, 6-2.
“I’ve always said that clay is my favorite surface,” Begu said. “I feel really good on it and especially these two tournaments are really special for me. I feel good and that’s probably why I have such good results. I’m really confident on this surface.”
Some of the few seeded winners on the day were No. 3 Garbine Muguruza rolling Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-0, and No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-4.
Matches to look for on Thursday in Rome are (1) Serena Williams vs. (Q) Christina McHale, (8) Suarez Navarro vs. (11) Bacsinszky, and (9) Kuznetsova vs. Gavrilova.
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