Western and Southern Open 2017: Venus Williams Advances, Tomas Berdych Upset

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 16, 2017

Aug 10, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Venus Williams (USA) returns a ball against Elina Svitolina (not pictured) during the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Western and Southern Open is the final tennis tuneup before the U.S. Open begins on Aug. 28. Tuesday's first- and second-round action featured Venus Williams and Simona Halep on the women's side and Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych on the men's side. 

Talent on the men's side is lighter than normal with Roger FedererAndy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic all dealing with injuries. Their absence opens the door for someone else to build momentum heading into the year's final Grand Slam event. 

Here's how things played out on the court Tuesday in Cincinnati. 

  

Results

Men's Draw

Juan Martin del Potro def. No. 10 Tomas Berdych, 3-6, 7-6, 6-0

Alexandr Dolgopolov def. Kevin Anderson, 6-4, 7-6

Karen Khachanov def. Diego Schwartzman, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3

Nick Kyrgios def. No. 9 David Goffin, 6-2, 6-3

Albert-Ramos Vinolas def. Mikhail Youzhny, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

David Ferrer def. Steve Johnson, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3

No. 11 Pablo Carreno Busta def. Pablo Lorenzi, 6-3, 6-3

Nikoloz Basilashvili def. Borna Coric, 6-3, 7-6

Jared Donaldson def. No. 12 Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6, 6-3

Yuichi Sugita def. No. 13 Jack Sock, 7-5, 6-4

Adrian Mannarino def. Robin Haase, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 

No. 14 John Isner def. Tommy Paul, 6-3, 6-3

No. 3 Dominic Thiem def. Fabio Fognini, 6-3, 6-2

Ivo Karlovic def. No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9)

  

Women's Draw

Ashleigh Barty def. Varvara Lepchenko, 6-4, 6-4

No. 11 Dominika Cibulkova def. Ana Konjuh, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2

Julia Goerges def. No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-4

Natalia Vikhlyantseva def. Donna Vekic, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 

No. 9 Venus Williams def. Alison Riske, 6-2, 6-0

Aleksandra Krunic def. No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko, 6-4, 6-2

No. 15 Anastasjia Sevastova def. Peng Shuai, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

Alize Cornet def. Catherine Bellis, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2

No. 7 Johanna Konta def. Kiki Bertens, 6-3, 6-3

No. 2 Simona Halep def. Taylor Townsend, 6-4, 6-1

No. 4 Garbine Muguruza def. Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-2, 6-0

Elena Vesnina def. Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

Ekaterina Makarova vs. Barbora Strycova, 6-4, 6-1

Francoise Abanda def. Magda Linette, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

Sloane Stephens def. Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5)

  

Recap

Juan Martin del Potro Stuns Tomas Berdych

After dropping the first set and needing a tiebreaker to stay alive in the second set, Juan Martin del Potro stunned Berdych with a come-from-behind three-set victory in a first-round match. 

Berdych was forced to withdraw from the Rogers Cup last week because of a rib injury. He came out of the gate strong on Tuesday with a 6-3 first-set win, but he looked completely overmatched by the end of the second set. 

Del Potro won the tiebreak 7-1 and shut out Berdych in a lopsided third set. Here was the final rally of the match, via Tennis TV:

Berdych has been unable to capitalize on the momentum from his trip to the Wimbledon semifinals in July. The 31-year-old lost to unranked Thanasi Kokkinakis in the semifinals at the Los Cabos Open before withdrawing from the Rogers Cup. 

On the other side, del Potro got a marquee win he badly needed. He's dropped to No. 30 in the ATP rankings and hadn't beaten a player seeded in the top 10 since the third round of the Italian Open against Kei Nishikori in May. 

With just one singles title since 2015, del Potro's confidence needed a big boost. This is just one win, but it can propel him to bigger things the rest of the week as he looks to make an impression heading into the U.S. Open. 

  

Nick Kyrgios Dominates David Goffin

Another top-10 upset on the men's side featured Nick Kyrgios knocking off No. 9 seed David Goffin in straight sets. 

Kyrgios dominated on the serve with 10 aces and won 87 percent of his successful first serves. He was also able to save all four break-point chances against him and convert three of his six break-point opportunities. 

After a breakout 2016 season with three singles titles, Kyrgios seemed poised to take a bigger leap in 2017 when he defeated Novak Djokovic in back-to-back tournaments in March. Instead, he's only reached one semifinal in seven ATP tournaments since the Paribas Open. 

At just 22 years old, Kyrgios has all the potential in the world and will show it when he's fully engaged. He just has lapses in concentration and has shown poor judgment at times on the court—including taking a phone call on the sidelines prior to a doubles match at the 2016 Australian Open—keeping him from reaching his ceiling. 

  

Venus Williams Rolls into Second Round

Williams wasted no time moving into the second round of the Western & Southern Open, knocking out Alison Riske 6-2, 6-0 in 66 minutes. 

Despite this being something of a comeback season for Williams, she is still in search of her first singles title since the Taiwan Open in February 2016. The 37-year-old had an outstanding run at Wimbledon before losing to Garbine Muguruza in the final. 

Riske was completely overmatched from the start. She didn't hit a single ace, despite having a first-serve percentage of 76, and she only saved 33 percent of the nine break-point attempts against her serve. 

By comparison, Williams fired seven aces in the win. She also won 83 percent of her first serves and 49 percent of her first-serve return points. The dominant showing allows her to save her legs and stamina for the later stages of the tournament.  

  

Agnieszka Radwanska's Season-Long Slump Continues

Agnieszka Radwanska is enduring her worst season since becoming a full-time player on the WTA. A straight-sets 6-4, 6-4 loss to Julia Goerges on Tuesday dropped her overall record in 2017 to 16-13. 

After climbing to No. 2 in the world rankings last year, which included three singles titles and an appearance in the Australian Open semifinals, Radwanska has not advanced past the fourth round in a tournament this year since the Apia International Sydney in January. 

Goerges, who hit 12 aces, was able to use Radwanska's struggles to her advantage. She hadn't defeated a player ranked in the WTA top 10 since knocking off Caroline Wozniacki in the second round at the 2015 French Open. 

This has been a good month for Goerges, who made it to the Citi Open final before losing in three sets to Ekaterina Makarova. She still has a long road ahead of her to play for the Western & Southern title, but this is a terrific start to her quest. 

  

(Full order of Wednesday play available at ATPWorldTour.com)

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