An already depleted women’s field at the Cincinnati Masters got even thinner Sunday evening after the tournament lost its Top 2 seeds: former winner Karolina Pliskova and second seed and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
Pliskova was in control early up 4-1 on Veronika Kudermetova before the young Russian got a read on the top seeds powerful serve.
Kudermetova overcame another break down in the second and closed it out for a stunning 7-5, 6-4 win.
“I tried to not think about the score. I tried to fight, tried to continue play like every ball, tried to enjoy like I play in the big stadium against first-seeded,” Kudermetova said after the match.
“It was nice feeling, and I tried to just fight and enjoy it. I think right now I play really well. I have yesterday the longest match, today a long match. For me it’s a good opportunity to play, like, right now with the good players. I know she’s a really good player. I needed to just keep working every point. I had a good chance because I played yesterday. She played just [her] first match.”
The No. 2 seed was about to hit the exits as well. French veteran Alize Cornet nearly gagged the second set before hanging on for a 6-1, 7-6(7) win over Kenin.
Cornet led 5-2 in the second with match points. Minutes later it was 5-all and Cornet was scrambling against the American.
“I’m a fighter,” Cornet said. “I’m always fighting, so that’s nothing new, but tonight was tough because I was 6-1, 5-2 up with two match points. Somehow I let it go a little bit, and I got really tight, so I never thought I could win the set the way I did.
“It was a really tight second set, and in the tie-break, oh my God, I was just praying for the best on every single shot.”
Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens continued her decline falling to Caroline Garcia 6-3, 7-6(4). Stephens is now 1-8 in her last nine matches.
A total of eight qualifiers won today including former Top 5 Vera Zvonareva.
With all the upsets and withdrawals, the favorite tab is fully on Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka who being play Monday.
Serena meets qualifier Arantxa Rus. Osaka opens against Karolina Muchova. Madison Keys begins her title defense by facing Ons Jabeur.
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