Azarenka breezes into the second round of Montreal event
TORONTO, Aug 8, (AFP): Stan Wawrinka put his comeback from knee surgery back on track with a 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 comeback win over Nick Kyrgios in the Toronto Masters first round on Tuesday, while Novak Djokovic eased to victory.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka put the Australian 16th seed out with an impressive display after losing a one-sided opening set.
Wawrinka has been struggling to find his best form since returning to the ATP Tour after two knee operations a year ago and has slumped to 195 in the world rankings.
“I’m looking for confidence. I’m looking for matches,” he said. “I’m grateful I got the wildcard to play directly in the main draw.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match. Winning 1-6, 7-5, 7-5, it’s great for me. Any victory is good to get more confidence.
“I’m happy with the way I’m practicing. I’m really happy with the level and the way I’m moving on the practice court, and I need to find how to put it in the match.” Wawrinka’s victory in just over two hours avenged a 2015 loss to Kyrgios in Canada, when the Swiss had to retire. That contest was also remembered for Kyrgios insulting his opponent’s girlfriend Donna Vekic.
Kyrgios, with green fluorescent tape on each kneecap, quit injured in last week’s Washington quarter-finals, and he was treated in the second set on Tuesday for his chronically troublesome hip.
The 33-year-old Wawrinka broke late in the second set to level the match, and completed his fightback on a second match point as he also broke in the 12th game of the decider.
“My hip is, obviously, a little bit sore. That’s why I called the trainer on the court. So it’s pretty self-explanatory,” Kyrgios said.
“It’s good to see Stan back, I guess. He’s obviously had a tough 12 months with his injury, and it’s good seeing him back winning some matches.” Wimbledon champion Djokovic beat Mirza Basic 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) after the Bosnian replaced orignal opponent Chung Hyeon of South Korea, who withdrew before the match with injury.
Djokovic, a four-time winner in Canada, double-faulted while serving for the match to slip into a second-set tie-break, but he finished the job for a second-round spot.
Asian players suffered further bad luck in Canada, as Japan’s Kei Nishikori lost serve five times in a 7-5, 6-1 loss to Robin Haase of the Netherlands.
His loss was the third in three matches for Japanese players after less than two days of play.
Nishikori, who reached the Washington quarter-finals last week and the last eight at Wimbledon, was overwhelmed by 11 aces from the Dutchman’s racquet.
Russian Karen Khachanov reached the second round at the expense of Serb Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-2, while American Sam Querrey beat Adrian Mannarino of France 6-2, 7-5 American Frances Tiafoe defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, Greek rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas accounted for Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) and 14th seed Fabio Fognini, winner of two of his last three tournaments, beat American Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4.
In Montreal, former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who was playing for first time since retiring in the San Jose quarter-finals, kicked off her WTA Montreal tournament on Tuesday by dismissing Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets.
Azarenka punched her ticket to the second round with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 victory in just 55 minutes over the former world number 10.
“I feel better,” she said. “It was definitely pretty bad in San Jose to have such a sudden thing with my back.
“I was hoping it would be nothing serious, but sometimes when you’re in the moment and get a really bad spasm, there’s nothing you can do.
“I didn’t really practice much after. I’ve only had one practice session this week.” Azarenka, who needed a wildcard to get into the Montreal draw, moves on to the second round where she will face British No. 1 Johanna Konta.
Azarenka stormed through the first nine games of the match before France’s Mladenovic got on the board.
The two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka eventually rolled through the final three games to get the victory in her first Montreal appearance since 2014.
Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova made quick work of Bulgarian qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva, easily winning 6-1, 6-2 in a renewal of their former teenage rivalry.
“No matter what tournament or who you’re playing against, you have to figure things out as you go. I think I did a good job of that today,” Sharapova said.
Sharapova, a finalist in 2009, performed solidly, defeating Karatantcheva for the fifth time in their five career meetings.
“I was aggressive, I served well throughout the match,” Sharapova said. “I think I did everything a little bit better, especially towards the end of the match.” The pair were facing each other for the first time in eight years. They played their first three career matches as teenagers, including a fiery affair on the outer courts at the 2004 Indian Wells tournament.
World No. 229 Karatantcheva was competing in her first WTA Tour main draw of the season.
Sharapova next faces another Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, who is ranked sixth in the world. Garcia came from behind to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova in three sets 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday.