MASON, Ohio -- In the final major lead-up tournament before the U.S. Open, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 5 Tomas Berdych all lost their opening matches at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday.
No. 4 Kvitova went down in straight sets to 19-year-old Elina Svitolina, ranked No. 39, losing 6-2, 7-6 (2) in the second round. The win was Svitolina's fourth over a top 20 player this year and her first over a a top ten player (she was 0-6 before today). The loss dropped Kvitova to 1-2 since winning Wimbledon, having lost in the third round last week in Montreal.
It's tempting to dismiss the loss given Kvitova's historic woes on North American hard courts -- the heat and humidity do no favors for her asthma -- but keep in mind that she won titles in Montreal and New Haven in 2012.
"From the beginning I didn't feel very comfortable out there," Kvitova said. "And I was trying really fight, I just wasn't able to do that today. I'm not pretty sure why."
Kvitova said she hasn't been hitting the ball well in practice either.
"We changed the balls again [this week], and they're bouncing a little bit higher and everything. It's just a little bit different. A little bit slower court. So that's the timing. And of course I didn't serve well as well today, so it's never help me."
Conditions were cooler in Cincinnati today as she took on Svitolina, who played a solid match as Kvitova struggled to find her range. While Svitolina hit eight winners and 11 unforced errors, Kvitova finished with 34 winners and 45 unforced errors. The Czech also served nine double-faults.
Still Kvitova had an opportunity to get back into the match in the second set tiebreak, but she easily handed the match to Svitolina, after committing error after error. Kvitova have one more chance to get matches next week at the Connecticut Open in New Haven, where she'll be the No. 2 seed behind Simona Halep.
Svitolina will take on No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro next.
On the men's side, Dimitrov couldn't get past Jerzy Janowicz, losing 4-6, 3-6, 6-3. The Bulgarian was coming off his second-straight semifinal at an ATP Masters 1000 event at the Rogers Cup, and adapting to the change in conditions on minimal rest has been tough. Dimitrov's loss opens the door for Andy Murray to secure the No. 8 seed at the U.S. Open if he makes the final this week.
The win was a big one for Janowicz, who has been mired in a year-long slump after making the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013. It was his first top ten win since May of last year and not surprisingly, he was very excited:
As for Berdych, his slump continues. The No. 5 has now lost to a player ranked outside the top 20 in his last five tournaments after losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Lu Yen-Hsun.