By Ricky Dimon
Two days into the Western & Southern Open, the top two seeds in the women’s draw are out. Both No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and No. 2 Sofia Kenin lost their opening matches on Sunday night. Pliskova lost to Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 6-4, while Kenin suffered an upset at the hands of Alize Cornet via a 6-1, 7-6(7) decision.
The world No. 3 Czech (seeded first following the withdrawals of Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep) let a 4-1 lead slip away in the first set and dropping serve once in the second at 4-4 sealed her fate.
“I tried to not think about the score,” Kudermetova said of her 4-1 deficit in the opener. “I tried to fight, tried to continue play every ball, tried to enjoy playing in the big stadium against the first seed. It was nice feeling, and I tried to just fight and enjoy it. And that’s it.
“I know she is really good player. I needed to just keep working on every point. I knew I had a good chance because I played yesterday; she was playing just her first match. I feel like I’m in a little bit better condition than she is; I think it was maybe a little bit of the key to this match.”
“She played a couple matches already,” Pliskova noted. “I thought I started quite well, actually. She was missing a lot. I think she improved during the match, during the first set, and it was just a couple points here and there…. Of course she played well. I thought she just was going for it. She won quite a tough match in the first round, so I think definitely she had nothing to lose today. She was playing free. She was playing quite good tennis.”
Kenin did not play good tennis–at least not based on her own assessment. She did, however, mount a brief but dramatic comeback from 6-1, 5-2, 40-15 down. The 21-year-old American battled all the way back to force a tiebreaker in the second set and even had two set points of her own at 6-4 but could not covert. Cornet finally capitalized on her fourth match point to stumble across the finish line.
“It wasn’t easy,” the reigning Australian Open champion admitted. “Obviously it didn’t feel like I had any rhythm. I don’t know why I let that happen. I felt like I was playing well. Of course she was playing well, so I’m not taking any creds from her. I literally couldn’t feel the ball–like literally for two sets. I don’t even know how I came back, to be honest. I just really didn’t feel my game at all today.”