De­fend­ing women’s champ Ker­ber ousted

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

af­ter Ker­ber played so poorly fol­low­ing her break­through 2016, when she also won the Aus­tralian Open and lost to Ser­ena Wil­liams in the Wim­ble­don fi­nal be­fore as­cend­ing to No. 1 with her vic­tory here.

This year, she fell in the first round of the French Open, that first time that had ever hap­pened to the women’s No. 1 seed in that tour­na­ment.

She said she had been prac­tic­ing well and was con­fi­dent, de­spite some mi­nor nag­ging in­juries she had both­ered her through­out the sea­son.

“I’m still the same player and the same per­son, so I think it’s just — yeah, I think it’s just the matches and how I played last year from the be­gin­ning and how I’m strug­gling this year,” Ker­ber said.

Ker­ber and Osaka had the stage to them­selves af­ter play was sus­pended on all courts other than Arthur Ashe Sta­dium, which has a re­tractable roof that was closed mid­way through No. 1 Karolina Pliskova’s 6-2, 6-1 vic­tory over Magda Linette of Poland.

Ker­ber then took the same court where she beat Pliskova for the ti­tle last year and took an­other sting­ing de­feat.

The left-han­der fell to 25- 18 with no ti­tles in 2017. She needed to make it to at least the round of 16 to stay in the top 10 and couldn’t get close. She had been in the top 10 since Oct. 5, 2015, a run that would to­tal 101 weeks be­fore she falls out.

With No. 2 Si­mona Halep’s loss to Maria Shara­pova on Mon­day night and sev­enth­seeded Jo­hanna Konta also fall­ing, three of the top-seven seeds on the women’s side were gone by the mid-day Tues­day — with Wil­liams not play­ing be­cause she’s preg­nant.

Osaka broke for a 5-3 lead in the first set, then seized con­trol when she broke twice in the sec­ond set to open a 4-1 cush­ion. She fin­ished off the 65-minute vic­tory when Ker­ber dumped a fore­hand into the net on match point be­fore quickly de­part­ing for the locker room.

It was Osaka’s first vic­tory over a top-10 op­po­nent af­ter she was oh-so-close to beat­ing a top player here last year, blow­ing a 5-1 lead in the third set and los- ing to Madi­son Keys in the third round.

“I just want to play good,” Osaka said. “I played good today, so I want to carry that on to my next match.”

Rafael Nadal was next up on Ashe, the only place there was any ac­tion at the year’s fi­nal Grand Slam. Light rain be­gan fall­ing ear­lier Tues­day, and though play was able to con­tinue for some time in be­tween the um­brel­las that popped up, it was even­tu­ally sus­pended and play­ers were sent back to the locker room and all but one of the nonAshe matches that were in progress or still to be played were scrapped.

No. 23 Barbora Strycova, Pliskova’s Czech coun­try­mate, also ad­vanced with a 6-1, 6-3 vic­tory over Ja­pan’s Misaki Doi, while No. 28 Le­sia Tsurenko of Ukraine was up­set by Yan­ina Wick­mayer of Bel­gium, 6-3, 6-1.

Roger Fed­erer was to play his open­ing-round match against young Amer­i­can Frances Ti­afoe at night, fol­low­ing No. 15 Keys’ match against Bel­gium’s Elise Mertens.

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