Tsonga stuns Khachanov; Coco, Stephens ousted in Washington - GulfToday

Tsonga stuns Khachanov; Coco, Stephens ousted in Washington

Rebecca Peterson

Rebecca Peterson returns to Sloane Stephens (unseen) during their Citi Open match at Rock Creek Tennis Centre in Washington. Agence France-Presse

France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated his first top-10 rival in nearly two years, ousting Russian second seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 on Tuesday at the ATP Washington Open.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, ranked 70th in the world, outlasted eighth-ranked Khachanov after one hour and 58 minutes, turning back the clock to reach the third round of the US Open hardcourt tuneup event.

“I played very good Tennis,” Tsonga said. “Everything went OK. Just very happy to go through. It’s good to see some results for all the hard work.”

Tsonga, who lost his only Grand Slam final to Novak Djokovic at the 2008 Australian Open, had dropped six matches in a row against top-10 rivals since beating fifth-ranked German Alexander Zverev in October 2017 in a Vienna quarter-final.

There’s a revitalized spark in Tsonga, who won his 17th ATP title in February at Montpellier as a 210th-rated wildcard. He fired 13 aces and won 80 percent of his first-serve points.

“When you play so long, sometimes you don’t feel like yourself,” Tsonga said. “Sometimes you lose your personality. I try to keep it and bring it back on court. When you are like this, it’s a lot better.”

Tsonga advanced to a third-round match against British 13th seed Kyle Edmund, who defeated South Africa’s Lloyd Harris 6-1, 6-4.

Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev reached the third round by ousting US wildcard Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 6-4.

The world number 10 might face an injured rival in the third round as 40th-ranked hometown favorite Frances Tiafoe beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) then quickly departed with a foot injury.

“I’m very happy to return home with a win,” 16th seed Tiafoe said in a statement.

Australia’s Bernard Tomic wasn’t so lucky, withdrawing from his first-round match with a finger injury. German lucky loser Peter Gojowczyk replaced him and outlasted Russian Andrey Rublev 7-6 (8/6), 4-6, 7-6 (7/2).

Khachanov, who earlier this month became the first Russian in the top 10 since Mikhail Youzhny in 2011, is coached by Vedran Martic but has worked the past couple weeks with former world number three Nikolay Davydenko.

Meanwhile; Coco Gauff, the American teen who electrified Wimbledon with a last-16 run, and US top seed Sloane Stephens crashed out Tuesday in round one of the WTA Washington Open.

Eighth-ranked Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, lost to Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson 6-2

, 7-5 while 15-year-old qualifier Gauff fell to Kazakhstan’s 84th-ranked Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-2.

“Every loss is something I learn from,” Gauff said. “Overall it was a good experience.”

The US Open women’s hardcourt tuneup event lost its only top-10 entrant in Stephens and its star attraction in 146th-ranked Gauff, whose loss came in her first main-draw match since she fell to eventual champion Simona Halep at Wimbledon.

“I’m looking forward to the US Open and hope I can make a good result there,” Gauff said. “I’m going to work on being more aggressive and trusting myself a little more on the court.”

Gauff has been shocked at the whirlwind speed at which her life has changed and that crowds still pack every seat to watch her.

Stephens, whose first WTA title came at Washington in 2015, exited with one win or less for the eighth time in 10 non-Grand Slam starts this year.

“I could have played better,” said Stephens. “It was hot. Tough conditions. But you know from here only thing you can do is improve.”

Stephens, 26, split with coach Kamau Murray in late 2018 after four years together and has been guided by Sven Groeneveld for the past two months.

“I’ve tried to have a good attitude and let the chips fall where they may going forward,” Stephens said.

Peterson collected her first victory in nine tries against a top-10 rival.

Diyas dispatched the crowd favorite before a packed second stadium. Gauff, who can’t yet drive, has impressed foes and friends alike.

“She’s cool. She’s locked in and ready to go,” said 40th-ranked ATP pal Frances Tiafoe. “She will have a hell of a career. The sky is the limit if she stays focused.”

US second seed Madison Keys -- ousted by US wildcard Hailey Baptiste 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 -- was impressed at Gauff’s poise in Wimbledon’s intense atmosphere.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, playing her first WTA singles match since the Australian Open, rallied to beat Venus Williams 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-1 on Tuesday in the hardcourt Tennis tournament in San Jose, California.

Mattek-Sands, 34, notched her first singles match win in more than a year -- since a first-round victory at the 2018 French Open.

She dropped her serve to open the third set, but won the final six games to set up a second-round clash with Spain’s eighth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.

“I’m in for another match, so I’m pumped,” said Mattek-Sands, who like seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams received a wild card into the draw.

Mattek-Sands was sidelined for more than a year after suffering a ruptured Patella tendon and dislocated kneecap at Wimbledon in 2017.

She returned to win the US Open mixed doubles title in 2018, but has been sidelined again this year by another knee injury.

In other first-round action, former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus overpowered French qualifier Harmony Tan 6-2 6-4.

Azarenka converted seven of her 12 break point chances to line up a meeting with fifth-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 winner over Japan’s Misaki Doi.

Agence France-Presse