Radwanska follows Kerber with early Madrid exit

World number two Radwanska, the leading player at the WTA Premier Mandatory clay-court event following Serena Williams' flu-enforced withdrawal, was dumped out by Dominika Cibulkova in the last match of the day.

Agnieszka Radwanska reacts after failing to return the ball to Dominika Cibulkova.   -  REUTERS

The top two seeds at the WTA Madrid Open were condemned to first-round exits on Sunday as Agnieszka Radwanska followed Angelique Kerber out of the competition.

World number two Radwanska, the leading player at the WTA Premier Mandatory clay-court event following Serena Williams' flu-enforced withdrawal, was dumped out by Dominika Cibulkova in the last match of the day.

Second seed Kerber had earlier bowed out in straight sets to Barbora Strycova, while another top-10 player, Roberta Vinci, suffered defeat to Danka Kovinic as the draw opened up.





 

CIBULKOVA LIVES UP TO EXPECTATIONS

Slovakia's Cibulkova came within a point of beating Radwanska in Indian Wells last month and always appeared likely to provide a stiff opening test for the Pole in Spain's capital. So it proved as the 2014 Australian Open finalist came through a titanic battle to prevail 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.

Cibulkova overcame the setback of failing to serve out the second set from 5-3 up, eventually eliminating Radwanska - a semi-finalist at four of her last five events - in a match featuring 19 breaks of serve.

 

KERBER'S CONQUEROR THRILLED TO END HOODOO

Strycova's success against Kerber was more of a surprise, given the Czech had failed to win a set in five previous meetings against the winner of this year's first major.

Kerber eased to a 6-1 6-1 victory when the duo met in Miami just six weeks ago.

After triumphing 6-4 6-2 on this occasion, Strycova said: "Oh my god, it's been so difficult. I'd win four games in the matches we played before. "I went into this match thinking I had nothing to lose. I mean, it can't be worse than Miami!"

 

AZARENKA, KVITOVA AND HALEP EASE THROUGH

Radwanska and Kerber may have endured painful opening-round exits, but there were no such problems for several other leading stars.

Victoria Azarenka, undoubtedly the WTA Tour's form player, stretched her winning run to 15 matches - including two recent Fed Cup victories - with a routine 6-4 6-2 triumph over Laura Robson, while Simona Halep and defending champion Petra Kvitova were similarly comfortable in respective successes against Misaki Doi and Lara Arruabarrena.

Home favourite Garbine Muguruza was a 6-2 7-5 winner over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who has still won just one WTA Tour main-draw match in 2016.

Another Spaniard, eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro, was made to work harder for her 3-6 6-2 6-3 victory over the in-form Timea Babos.

 

ILLNESS LEADS TO EARLY EXIT FOR KONTA

World number 22 Johanna Konta lost the first set of her match with Caroline Garcia and retired after three games of the second, citing an upper respiratory illness. Garcia will represent the next opponent for Cibulkova.

Elsewhere on Sunday, there were wins for the likes of Ana Ivanovic, Timea Bacsinszky and Karolina Pliskova.

Laura Siegemund followed up her shock run to the Stuttgart Open final by defeating 2015 Madrid runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova, the ninth seed, 6-0 3-6 6-3.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.