Kyrgios blames 'clicking shoulder' for first-round exit

WUHAN: World number one Ash Barty fended off a late comeback attempt by American Sofia Kenin to reach the Wuhan Open quarter-finals yesterdqay, while second seed Karolina Pliskova was knocked out in straight sets by Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska.
After cruising through the first set without any trouble, Barty fought back from a break down in the next, saving two set points to overcome Kenin 6-3 7-5 for her third win over the 20-year-old Guangzhou champion in four meetings this season.

Next up for the Australian top seed will be Croatia's Petra Martic who defeated qualifier Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-1. World number two Pliskova's hopes of dethroning Barty as world number one by the end of the week ended with a 6-1 6-4 defeat by Yastremska.

The unseeded 19-year-old did not drop serve and smashed 26 winners past her Czech opponent for the first top 10 victory of her career. Yastremska next faces another Czech top 10 opponent in Petra Kvitova, who advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Sloane Stephens -- her first win over the former US Open champion.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep was forced to retire from her match against wildcard Elena Rybakina while trailing 5-4 in the first set after feeling sharp pain in her back. The Romanian had suffered a herniated disk late last year which ruled her out of the season-ending WTA Finals.
"It's a lower back (injury). I think it's more muscle, but I don't know yet because I didn't check it properly," the fourth seed told reporters. "At four-all, 0-30, with the backhand… I had a sharp pain. I don't know yet (if it is the same as the previous injury). It looks a little bit different but it's still the same zone."

WUHAN: Ashleigh Barty of Australia hits a return against Sofia Kenin of the US during their third round women’s singles match at the Wuhan Open tennis tournament in Wuhan yesterday. —AFP

Rybakina will next face Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka who dispatched sixth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-1 7-6(9). Ukraine's Elina Svitolina beat Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 6-2 to stay on course to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen where she will bid to retain her title.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios fears he could face several weeks out after struggling with what he said was a "clicking" shoulder in a limp first-round exit at the Zhuhai Championships yesterday. The 24-year-old Australian, who has been accused of tanking matches in the past, served underarm on one occasion and led the veteran Italian Andreas Seppi 4-1 in the first set.

But the unpredictable firebrand went down 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in southern China after his game spectacularly fell apart. Kyrgios, who has had numerous run-ins with tennis authorities down the years, said that he was "struggling a lot" -- but he still played doubles soon after.
"I was battling with a bit of a shoulder/collar bone injury," said the 27th-ranked Kyrgios, a colourful but controversial figure. "At this rate I'm not thinking about playing until my shoulder's -- or I don't even know what it is -- but until my front of my shoulder feels better and I can serve," he added, saying his right shoulder had been "clicking".

"I mean the reason I lost today was because I couldn't serve. "If I could serve, it would have been a pretty routine win for me, to be honest." Asked if he could sit out the next few weeks or even the rest of the season, Kyrgios replied: "For sure, I mean at this rate I wouldn't be surprised.

"I wasn't able to even serve at a reasonable pace. "I'm probably not going to bother playing until I can get it right again," he added. Kyrgios elicited a few giggles from a sparse crowd in Zhuhai with an underarm serve in the first set. Coasting 3-1 and 40-0 up, Kyrgios served weakly into the net, before surging into a 4-1 lead. - Agencies