Cham­pion Shara­pova, Kvi­tova dumped out in Stuttgart

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Three- time de­fend­ing Stuttgart cham­pion Maria Shara­pova l ost her open­ing clay­court match of the sea­son Thurs­day, go­ing down 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 to Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber in the Ger­man city.

The de­feat was Shara­pova’s first at the venue af­ter sweep­ing to the ti­tle in 2012, 2013 and 2014 on the back of 13 suc­ces­sive wins.

It also means the French Open cham­pion will lose her world num­ber two rank­ing to Si­mona Halep next week.

The de­feat for 28- year- old Shara­pova ended a seven-year streak of 64 suc­ces­sive wins on clay af­ter se­cur­ing the first set.

Ker­ber, the world num­ber 14, will face Shara­pova’s Rus­sian com­pa­triot Eka­te­rina Makarova in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Shara­pova, who skipped Rus­sia’s Fed Cup semi­fi­nal win over Ger­many with a leg in­jury last week­end, was on course for a com­fort­able win at one stage, lead­ing by a set and 5-4.

But left- handed Ker­ber won three games in a row to sneak the sec­ond set 7-5 be­fore even­tu­ally tak­ing victory af­ter two hours and 27 min­utes.

Shara­pova fin­ished with 44 win­ners to 40 un­forced er­rors while Ker­ber was 22-20.

“We both played very well, high­level ten­nis,” Ker­ber said.

“It felt amaz­ing out there. The crowd was so sup­port­ive of both of us. I was a lit­tle bit tired in the sec­ond set but when I heard the crowd I was fight­ing un­til the last point.”

World num­ber four Petra Kvi­tova also suf­fered a shock de­feat, beaten in straight sets by un­seeded Amer­i­can Madi­son Bren­gle.

Bren­gle, 25, ran out a 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) win­ner as Kvi­tova failed to make it past the sec­ond round in her first tour­na­ment since Fe­bru­ary.

Bren­gle broke the 2014 Wim­ble­don cham­pion’s serve seven times to clinch victory in just over 90 min­utes.

Kvi­tova, who took a

six-week break to re­cover from ex­haus­tion, re­sumed train­ing three weeks ago and won both her Fed Cup semi­fi­nal sin­gles rub­bers as the Czechs beat France 3-1 last week­end.

The un­seeded Amer­i­can, who reached the last 16 at the Aus­tralian Open, will next face France’s Caro­line Garcia who put out Ca­rina Wit­thoeft of Ger­many 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

“I think that Madi­son played a solid match. She didn’t miss much and it was re­ally dif­fi­cult for me be­cause when I had the op­por­tu­nity for win­ners I missed,” said Kvi­tova, who hit 39 un­forced er­rors and the same num­ber of win­ners.

“The con­fi­dence wasn’t re­ally high then and I didn’t feel phys­i­cally there as well.

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