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Ivanovic falls at first Open hurdle
31 Aug 2015 22:10
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic was the first major casualty of the U.S. Open as the Serbian seventh seed fell 6-3 3-6 6-3 to Dominika Cibulkova in the opening match at Arthur Ashe Stadium today.
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The 50th-ranked Cibulkova of Slovakia seized the advantage with a service break in the fourth game of third set for a 3-1 lead and consolidated it with a backhand drop shot to make it 4-1 against the former French Open champion.
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A backhand long from Ivanovic, who had her left foot taped midway through the final set, ended the nearly two-hour contest.
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"Today I know that my game was there on the court," said the 26-year-old Cibulkova, who cracked the top 10 last year before finishing the season ranked 11th and reached the quarter-finals last week in New Haven.
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"I just had to stay tough and know I had to do it, she doesn't give away shots."
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Cibulkova, a 2014 Australian Open finalist who earlier this year had Achilles-related surgery on her left foot, will next face American qualifier Jessica Pegula, a 7-5 6-3 winner over Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.
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For Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, the result continued an up-and-down season. The 27-year-old Serb, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros this year, was coming off back-to-back quarter-finals at U.S. Open tune-up events in Toronto and Cincinnati.
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She also has lost three times to players outside the top-100 this year, including twice at grand slams.
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Venus Williams came close to joining the casualty list but the 13-time grand slam champion dug deep to beat Monica Puig 6-4 6-7 (7/9) 6-3.
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Venus will now play fellow American Irina Falconi in the second round.
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"I give so much credit to my opponent," said Venus, who blasted home 18 aces and powered in 48 winners, cranking her serves up to 124 miles per hour. "It seemed like every time I got close, she came up with unbelievable shots. "She played so well from behind which is a great attribute, so great things for her coming."
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British number one Heather Watson lost her first round match to America's Lauren Davis.
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Watson was hoping to reach round two in Flushing Meadows for the first time in five attempts but it was Davis who claimed two tie-breaks to go through 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/0).
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The defeat is a heavy blow for Watson, who won the junior title in New York in 2009, but is yet to win in the senior competition, falling victim to distinguished opponents including Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Simona Halep.
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Other early matches on the women's side went according to script as 13th-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova dismissed Brazil's Teliana Pereira 6-3 6-3, and 15th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland crushed Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-3.
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