Serena Williams bowed out in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday, as Carolina Garcia progressed from a demanding tie and Karolina Pliskova ended a long losing record. Petra Kvitova had too much for Williams to deal with at the WTA Premier 5 event, as the American great continues to ease her way back into regular elite competition. Garcia, meanwhile, was at risk of an upset in her meeting with a former winner in Ohio, while Pliskova finally got the better of a long-term rival.
Kvitova edges memorable Williams duel
Kvitova had to dig deep to prevail against Williams, the Czech winning 6-3 2-6 6-3 after two hours on the outdoor hard courts. "It's always a pleasure to share a court with her [Williams], I'm just happy I did well today," Kvitova said in an on-court interview. Fifth seed Svitolina also endured a gruelling encounter with Svetlana Kuznetsova late in the day, the Ukrainian eventually prevailing 7-6 (7-1) 4-6 6-4 after two hours and 43 minutes.
Garcia navigates Azarenka obstacle
Sixth seed Garcia recovered from falling a break down in each set to overcome 2013 champion Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-5 and progress to the third round. "I was expecting a big fight like this. Her ball was coming very fast ... and I was just trying to react as fast as I could and just put one ball in. She's not number one like she used to be, but you can see she had a lot of tennis behind her," Garcia said afterwards.
Pliskova ends Radwanska hoodoo
Pliskova, the 2016 champion, defeated former world number two Agnieszka Radwanska for the first time in eight attempts. Seeded ninth this week, Pliskova overcame her Polish opponent 6-3 6-3, breaking her three times in the first set and once in the second. "I think the match was under my control," the Czech world number eight told a post-match press conference. "She had a couple of break points, but even if she would break me I still felt like I'm the better one today."
Kasatkina an early casualty
Daria Kasatkina, seeded 12th, was one of the few high-ranked players to suffer an upset on Tuesday, Petra Martic winning their match 4-6 6-4 6-3. Seeds Elise Mertens (15) and Ashleigh Barty (14) overcame Magdalena Rybarikova and Marketa Vondrousova respectively in straight sets. The hopes of the host nation took a hit though, Coco Vandeweghe, Varvara Lepchenko and Allie Kiick all bowed out, with Amanda Anisimova the only American to progress on Tuesday.