Venus Williams loses in 2nd round in Toronto

TORONTO —Venus Williams’ tuneup for the U.S. Open hit a surprising roadblock Tuesday with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 loss to Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round of the Rogers Cup.

Williams, seeded third, lost to an opponent ranked No. 64. Williams was playing at this tournament for the first time since 1997 when she was 17. She has lost all three of her matches at the Rogers Cup.

“I was definitely expecting to play well and to go very far in the tournament,” Williams said. “I’ve got a lot of fans here, so it’s disappointing.”

Bondarenko will play Agnes Szavay of Hungary or Agnieska Radwanska of Poland in the third round.

“I was playing really good,” Bondarenko said. “The first set, I didn’t know what to do with her power. The rest of the game, I just tried to keep the ball in play.”

Williams tried to find some consolation in the defeat, with the U.S. Open starting Aug. 31.

“I have to take it as a positive,” she said. “Now it’ll give me a chance to rest. It’s been a really busy summer for me.”

Williams controlled the first set but couldn’t shake Bondarenko, who chased down shot after shot in stifling Rexall Centre. Bondarenko broke Williams three times in the second set and once more in the third. She won 20 of 28 service points in the deciding set.

“She played well,” Williams said. “She really started playing consistently. Unfortunately I made too many errors. I would have liked to play a cleaner match.”

Bondarenko initially said it was “just another match,” but quickly changed her mind.

“It’s big because it was against Venus,” she said, adding she now feels she can beat anyone if she can defeat an opponent of this stature.

Kim Clijsters cruised past Elena Baltacha 6-3, 6-4, advancing in her second tournament since taking more than two years off to have a child.

Ana Ivanovic rallied past Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph. Ivanovic, seeking her first WTA Tour title of the season, had seven double-faults against Rybarikova, ranked No. 47.

Murray hardly noticed on long drive to Cincy

MASON, Ohio  — Andy Murray needed a road trip.

The
day after he won the Rogers Cup in Montreal, the world’s new No. 2
player decided to hit the road instead of the airport for the trip to
Cincinnati and the next Masters event.

It’s 798 miles from center
court in Montreal to center court in suburban Cincinnati. Flying time?
A little over two hours. Driving time? A little over 13 hours.

Easy choice.

“I don’t know many people that fly as much as tennis
players,” Murray said Tuesday, before practicing for the $3 million
Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. “I mean, by the end of
the year, you get pretty sick of it.

“So when you get the chance to drive, I think it’s quite a nice thing to do.”

With
fitness trainer Jez Green at the wheel, they hit the highway, crossed
into the United States at Buffalo, then wheeled down a series of
interstate roads — I-90 west along the lake, I-271 around Cleveland,
I-71 meandering the length of Ohio.

They made a half-dozen stops to refuel or get a sandwich. The only thing Murray didn’t get: Noticed. Not much, anyway.

“I
actually got recognized by the border control when we were coming over
into the States, which was nice,” Murray said Tuesday. “We got through
there pretty quickly.”

He won’t be able to keep such a low
profile in Cincinnati, where his new ranking — he moved up to No. 2
this week for the first time — will get a lot of attention once the
tournament gets moving at full speed.

None of the top eight seeds
played Monday or Tuesday. The top-ranked player on the courts has been
No. 9 Gilles Simon of France, who won his second-round match 7-6 (5),
6-7 (6), 6-1 over Russia’s Igor Andreev on Tuesday.

Lleyton
Hewitt rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 win over No. 12 Robin Soderling
of Sweden. Hewitt’s health is his main concern — he had hip surgery
last August and lost in the first round at Montreal last week because
of a leg injury.

“My body felt a lot better,” he said. “That was
the difference. It gave me a lot of confidence to be able to actually
go out there and compete. Last week in Montreal, I couldn’t compete,
which is frustrating.”


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