August 15, 2018 / 4:34 AM / a month ago

Serena beaten by Kvitova in second round in Cincinnati

(Reuters) - Serena Williams was beaten 6-3 2-6 6-3 by Petra Kvitova in a thrilling second-round match at the Cincinnati Open on Tuesday, ending the American’s bid for a third title at the event.

Aug 14, 2018; Mason, OH, USA; Serena Williams (USA) returns a shot against Petra Kvitova (CZE) in the Western and Southern tennis open at Lindner Family Tennis Center. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Williams looked rusty in the first set, struggling to handle the Czech’s booming left-handed serve and never created a break-point opportunity.

But the 23-times grand slam champion dug deep in the second, thumping serves and blasting returns to the delight of the supportive crowd under the lights.

Aug 14, 2018; Mason, OH, USA; Petra Kvitova (CZE) reacts to defeating Serena Williams (USA) in the Western and Southern tennis open at Lindner Family Tennis Center. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Williams appeared to be in command when she broke Kvitova to start the deciding third set but the two-time Wimbledon champion elevated her service game and was defensively resolute to set up a third-round clash with Kristina Mladenovic.

For former world number one Williams, the loss is another setback as she attempts to get back to the top ranking after a difficult childbirth last year.

France’s Mladenovic had earlier defeated qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova 6-3 6-0, while her sixth seeded compatriot Caroline Garcia defeated fellow power hitter Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-5 to advance to the third round.

Former world number one Azarenka, who on Tuesday was given a wildcard for the U.S. Open, never found her stride and committed her fifth double fault on match point to hand Garcia the win.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Big-serving Czech Karolina Pliskova fired an ace on match point to dispatch Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-3 in their first-round match.

Pliskova had never won a set against Radwanska in seven prior meetings but cruised to the win over the 29-year-old Pole, who is working her way back from injuries.

Greece’s Maria Sakkari edged 20-year-old Naomi Osaka in a closely contested second-set tiebreak to dispatch the Japanese 6-3 7-6(8) in their first-round match.

Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens cracked eight aces and won 90 percent of her first serves as she strolled to a 6-2 6-0 win over American Coco Vandeweghe.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina outlasted Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 in their second-round clash.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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