Petra Kvitova, Johanna Konta win as retirements rock Wuhan Open
Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Briton Johanna Konta made convincing starts at the WTA Wuhan Open as the tournament was hit by a wave of retirements on Monday.
Three players quit mid-match, taking the tally to five in just two days at the Chinese tournament, which is also missing injured world number two Serena Williams.
Kvitova served six aces -- mirrored by her teenage opponent’s six double faults -- to sweep to a 6-3, 6-1 victory against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko.
“The beginning of the match was just terrible. Afterwards, I was just more relaxed and more confident,” the Czech player told reporters.
“I think the key was kind of attacking her second serve,” she added.
Meanwhile, Konta eased past German Annika Beck 6-2, 6-1 to get her campaign off to a flying start.
“She fought all the way through and we had a lot of close games so I don’t think the scoreline quite reflects the level of the match,” Konta said after the match.
The Australian Open semi-finalist will meet Zhang Shuai of China, who beat compatriot Peng Shuai in three tightly fought sets 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4.
The pair last met in Melbourne, where Konta halted qualifier Zhang’s fairy-tale run in the quarter finals.
“We had a great match at the Australian Open and I haven’t played her since so I think it will be a great battle,” Konta said.
But Britain’s Heather Watson, Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all joined the injury list as they retired from their first-round matches.
The late-season tournament, which comes just two weeks after the year’s final Grand Slam, the US Open, also saw five retirements last year -- including in the final.
Monday’s pull-outs enabled American Madison Brengle, Yulia Putintseva of Kazakstan and Japan’s Misaki Doi to progress to the second round with unexpected ease.
Kvitova levelled her season’s score with Ostapenko, who beat the Olympic bronze medallist twice at the beginning of the year, before the Czech ousted her at the US Open.
Illness hampered the start of the 26-year-old Kvitova’s season, which also saw her split with her coach of seven years David Kotyza, and she has slipped to 16th in the rankings -- her lowest in five years.
But she won her first Olympic medal at Rio, losing in the semi-finals to eventual gold medallist Monica Puig before beating American Madison Keys for the third podium spot.
Wimbledon quarter-finalist Dominika Cibulkova took three sets to beat French qualifier Alize Cornet 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 and next faces German Laura Siegemund.