World number five Petra Kvitova suffered her second early exit in just over a week Monday as she crashed out of the China Open’s round two at the hands of Carla Suarez Navarro.
Last year’s Wimbledon champion lost 6-3, 6-2 to the Spanish player ranked 46th in the world, after also being humiliated in straight sets by Croatia’s Petra Martic at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The fourth seed from the Czech Republic had received a first-round bye in Japan before losing to Martic, then 73rd in the standings. And her poor form in Asia continued in Beijing, largely due to erratic serving.
Kvitova, who has yet to confirm her spot at the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul featuring the year’s top eight players, hit five double faults in the match, while her opponent who did not make any.
Elsewhere, world number one Victoria Azarenka progressed to the second round with ease, thrashing Alize Cornet of France 6-1, 6-0, while second-ranked Maria Sharapova came through 7-5, 7-5 against Romania’s Simona Halep.
“I put myself in a good position in both of those sets being up a break, and I let her back in the match a couple of times,” Sharapova said.
“That’s certainly not the best thing, I’m not exactly proud of it, but the good thing was I was able to regain my focus and win that match. I’m happy to be through.”
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who won her first title in more than a year in Seoul last month, maintained her recent good form with a 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2 victory over Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa. In the men’s event, last year’s losing finalist Marin Cilic suffered a shock first-round defeat to wild card Marius Copil, ranked more than 200 places below him in the world.
The fourth-seeded Croat took the first set by six games to three and looked to be coasting, but the Romanian world number 221 fought back with a number of big serves to take the second on a tie break, 7-6 (7/0) and the third 6-4.
“I wasn’t serving consistently well. When I had the break-up in all three sets I would lose my serve,” Cilic said.
The world number 15 lost to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the 2011 final and was hoping to go one better this year.
“I’m very disappointed as I always feel here may be the best of the year, and the conditions would suit my game almost perfectly,” Cilic added.
Murray a contender at every Grand Slam: Djokovic
World number two Novak Djokovic said Monday his conqueror in the US Open final this year Andy Murray has the “quality” to be a contender at every Grand Slam the Scotsman plays in.
Murray’s 7-6 (12/10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 victory over the Serbian was his first Grand Slam victory in five finals appearances with world number one Roger Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal winning 29 of the prior 30 major titles.
“Murray, I think, is playing better than ever,” Djokovic said in Beijing ahead of his first round tie at the China Open.
“He won his first Grand Slam title. I’m sure that he’s one that’s going to be, in the future, one of the contenders to win every Grand Slam he plays in.
“He definitely has the skill, the quality,” added the five-time Grand Slam winner who is looking to extend his unbeaten record at the China Open.
Djokovic has won the event on the two occasions he has entered it, in 2009 and 2010, but missed last year because of injury.
“I really, really want to do well here,” he said. “I won the bronze medal in these courts (at the Beijing Olympics in 2008), so I have really nice memories from this tournament.”
Chinese fans might be in for a special treat this week with Djokovic saying he would be willing to put on a performance of the popular South Korean “Gangnam Style” dance, which has become a YouTube sensation.