American stars Venus Williams and Coco Gauff both got bounced out of the Cincinnati Masters Saturday in the opening round.
The 16-year-old Gauff had no answer for Maria Sakkari’s overpower first serve as the Greek cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win.
“I think I really played a good match. I played a match in Palermo, but for me, it doesn’t count. It wasn’t even a match, the way I played,” said Sakkari who never dropped serve. “Coming back the way I did, it’s really important, and a lot of confidence from this.”
Hopes were high for Gauff who had just made a Lexington semifinal earlier this month. But the teen couldn’t find the mark on a fan-less Grandstand court in New York.
“Definitely today was not my best match,” Gauff said. “I could have played better. She came out strong, hitting her shots. I didn’t really have good responses to those. I’m just going to use this match to kind of prepare for the U.S. Open. I have a whole week before that, and I’m going to take what I did today and learn from it.”
Later, Venus Williams took the court against a woman 20 years younger, 20-year-old Dayana Yastremka. Venus battled to win a tough first set and then looked on her way to victory when the Ukraine rolled her ankle. Yastremska wobbled, nearly retired but pressed on, and somehow managed to pull her game together and upset the former No. 1 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
“I’m very happy that I won and same time very sad because I had really good opportunity the first set,” Yastremska said. “But when I twisted my ankle, to be honest, my mind completely went the other way. I started to think just about the pain, how I twisted, and what is going to be next.
“I really wanted to withdraw after the first game when I lost, but after that, the second game when I was serving, I [said] to myself that I’m not going to withdraw, that I’m going to play to the end. It doesn’t matter how it’s going to finish, but I have to finish that match. I really have to deal with the pain.”
Former champion Victoria Azarenka rolled past a listless Donna Vekic 6-2, 6-3. Amanda Anisimova upended countrywoman Alison Riske and Ekatarina Alexandrova upset No. 9 seed Elena Rybakina.
Sunday sees the top two seeds on court as No. 1 Karolina Pliskova faces Veronika Kudermetova and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin collides with French veteran Alize Cornet.
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