The Western & Southern Open started just a few days ago, but it has already produced some interesting results in the women’s draw.
The tournament, which already took a big blow as a number of the top-seeded women opted out of playing in New York, has lost even more female star power in just the first few rounds.
It’s particularly surprising that a number of high-profile Americans have gone down early, which is not good for their preparations for the upcoming US Open.
Meanwhile, the stars on the men’s side are still alive, although top seed Novak Djokovic is apparently not quite at 100 per cent.
SBOBET takes a closer look at all the big headlines that have come out from the first few days of the Western & Southern Open.
Western & Southern Open top women’s seeds tumble
Several top-seeded women’s players opted out of playing in the Western & Southern Open due to COVID-19 concerns in the US.
And now, the top two seeds who did decide to take part — World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and American World No. 4 Sofia Kenin — were both knocked out in their very first match in the second round.
Pliskova lost in straight sets to Russian Veronika Kudermetova, who is currently ranked No. 40 in the world. Meanwhile, Kenin was knocked out by French veteran Alize Cornet in straight sets.
With both Pliskova and Kenin out, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka are the highest-ranked women’s players left in the tournament, and their Western & Southern Open 2020 odds just improved with the early exits of their top rivals.
Williams, the World No. 9, will play Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus in the second round. Rus defeated Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round.
Meanwhile, Osaka will play Czech Karolina Muchova. The 23-year-old made it to the second round after beating American qualifier Ann Li in the first round in straight sets.
Williams is a two-time winner of the Western & Southern Open in 2014 and 2015, where she beat Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep. And with Pliskova and Kenin gone, the path is wide open for her to claim her third career title in this tournament.
American women fall in first two rounds
Kenin was not the only American to make an unexpectedly quick exit in New York. Veteran Venus Williams and teen sensation Coco Gauff were both knocked out in the first round, as did former US Open winner Sloane Stephens. Both Williams and Stephens were tournament wild cards.
Williams lost a gruelling three-set battle against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska. Williams won the first set 7-5, but Yastremska fought back to take the next two sets.
Meanwhile, Gauff — who recently reached the semi-finals of the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky — was demolished 6-1, 6-3 by Greek Maria Sakkari, and Stephens lost in straight sets to Caroline Garcia.
Stephens has had a difficult 2020 season thus far. She has won just one match and has crashed out of the first round in five other tournaments.
With that form, her chances of doing well in the US Open — which she won in 2017 — don’t look too promising.
With Kenin’s exit, Madison Keys is now the second-highest ranked American left in the women’s draw. Keys is the defending Western & Southern Open women’s singles champion and will begin her campaign against Ons Jabeur in the second round.
Men’s stars take care of business early
The men’s draw of the Western & Southern Open didn’t see as many big upsets as in the first few rounds on women’s side, though.
Former World No. 1 Andy Murray, who made the tournament as a wild card, beat fellow wild card Frances Tiafoe in three sets in his first-round matchup. Murray will next face World No. 5 Alexander Zverev in the second round.
Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the third round after beating veteran Kevin Anderson in straight sets.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will begin his tournament against qualifier Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic had to pull out of the Western & Southern doubles tournament due to neck pain, but he has opted to stay in the singles draw.
Djokovic is eager to improve his record at the Western & Southern Open. He’s only a one-time winner at the event while losing in the final five times. But stay tuned to the Western & Southern 2020 updates on the status of Djokovic’s neck to see whether the Serb can still make it through the tournament.
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