Tennis

Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys slip in opening round of Citi Open

Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, the top-two seeds of the Citi Open, suffered stunning defeats in the first round of the Washington tournament yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Top seed and former champion Stephens lost 6-2, 7-5 to Sweden's Rebecca Peterson, while second seed Keys was beaten 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 by 17-year-old Hailey Baptiste.

Stephens, whose best result this year was a run to the Madrid semi-finals in May, was misfiring from the start and never managed to settle into much of a groove in her first meeting with the Swedish world No. 70.

Peterson, 23, enjoyed a dream start as she raced to a 5-2 lead and took the opening set in 29 minutes when Stephens sent a routine backhand from the baseline into the net.

Stephens, 26, then started to settle down in the second and led 5-4, but Peterson broke back to get back on serve and never looked back.

Teen Baptiste also broke back against Keys, who appeared in control when she went up a break in the first set, and managed to outslug the hard-hitting Keys, 24, to claim her first career WTA match win.

Olympic champion Monica Puig, fourth seed Hsieh Su-wei and France's Kristina Mladenovic all advanced in straight sets to the second round.

On the men's side, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga improved his record against Karen Khachanov to 3-0 after coming out on the winning end of a tight 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 battle to send the second-seeded Russian packing.

Australian Nick Kyrgios blasted 15 aces to defeat qualifier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 7-5, 6-4 to set up a second-round showdown with 11th-seeded Gilles Simon of France.

Big-serving Marin Cilic and promising newcomers Daniil Medvedev and Kyle Edmund also advanced in straight sets to reach the second round on Tuesday.

Over in California, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, playing her first WTA singles match since the Australian Open, rallied to beat Venus Williams 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-1 at the Silicon Valley Classic.

Mattek-Sands, 34, notched her first singles win in more than a year - since a first-round victory at the 2018 French Open.

She dropped her serve to open the third set, but won the final six games to set up a second-round clash with Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

"I'm in for another match, so I'm pumped," said Mattek-Sands, who had received a wildcard, along with seven-time Major champion Williams.

In other first-round action, former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus overpowered French qualifier Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-4. - AFP, REUTERS

Tennis