Zhang upsets Kvitova at Connecticut Open

AP
Petra Kvitova's final tuneup for the US Open ended with a 2-6, 1-6 loss to Zhang Shuai of China in the first round of the Connecticut Open on Monday.
AP
AFP

Zhang Shuai of China returns a shot to Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during their Connecticut Open first-round match at Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, on August 21, 2017.

Petra Kvitova's final tuneup for the US Open ended with a 2-6, 1-6 loss to Zhang Shuai of China in the first round of the Connecticut Open on Monday night.

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion and a three-time champion in New Haven, is just 4-4 on hardcourts this season. The Czech player returned to the tour at the French Open in May after she was stabbed during a home invasion in December, leaving her dominant left hand seriously injured.

Zhang, ranked 29th, was playing her first match in the United States since April.

"I just arrived in New Haven last night, coming straight from China," she said. "It's a big change. It's 12 hours' time difference. Before the match I was still sleeping."

Earlier, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard breezed past higher-ranked American Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-1. Bouchard, a wildcard entry, next faces top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.

Bouchard, who reached a career-best No. 5 in the rankings in 2014, has struggled recently, slipping to 74th.

In other matches, Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium beat Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-2, 6-3, and Romania's Ana Bogdan got past Russia's Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 7-5.

The US Open begins on August 28 but two-time grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from the tournament as she is not allowed to take her baby son out of California amid a custody battle with her former partner.

The 28-year-old Belarusian returned to action in June, after the birth of her son Leo last December, and had been hopeful that legal arrangements could be worked out to allow her to compete at the August 28-September 10 grand slam in New York.

"I am sadly unable to compete in this year's US Open due to my ongoing family situation that I am working through," former world No. 1 Azarenka, a finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and 2013, said in a statement.

Favorite tournaments

"While I will dearly miss being in New York and playing in one of my favorite tournaments where I have enjoyed some of the best moments in my career, I am already looking forward to being back next year."

Due to the custody battle, Azarenka is unwilling to leave her son behind in California, where she has a home and where her child was born.

In an open letter posted on social media last week, Azarenka said no one should ever have to decide between a child and their career. She also said the only way she could play in the US Open is if she left her child behind in California, which she was not willing to do.

Since returning to action, Azarenka has reached the last 16 at the Mallorca Open in June and Wimbledon.

Azarenka's withdrawal has opened up a place for Japan's Misa Eguchi in the main draw at the year's final grand slam.

Azarenka, now ranked 204th, has not played since Wimbledon. She lost in the final in New York in 2012 and 2013 to Serena Williams. Those were also the years that Azarenka won her two Grand Slam singles titles in Australia.

Williams, who is pregnant with her first child, also will not play at this year's US Open. On the men's side, three top-10 players have withdrawn with season-ending injuries: defending champion Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori.

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