Serena Williams knocked out by Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati thriller


Former world number one Serena Williams says she is at the start of a "long comeback" after losing 6-3 2-6 6-3 to Czech Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati.

The 23-time major champion, who gave birth to her first child in September, went into further depth following her win over Gavrilova with a candid answer to the difficulties of juggling her professional career with being a parent. She opened with a straight-sets victory against Daria Gavrilova, a match that took just 65 minutes.

The 20-time major victor skipped Toronto last week to pace himself with the tournament at Flushing Meadows followed by the Laver Cup in Chicago in mid-September.

Williams withdrew from the Rogers Cup following that loss, citing "personal reasons", and last week shared an Instagram post revealing her difficulty with postpartum emotions. "I expect some ups and downs the next few weeks, months, because I still know that not everything is back", the 33-year-old said.

"After Washington, I took four, five days off the tennis court".

"I would probably add more best-of-five-set matches in finals", said the world No.2 after his Cincinnati Masters second-round win over Peter Gojowczyk.

Greece's Maria Sakkari edged 20-year-old Naomi Osaka in a closely contested second-set tiebreak to dispatch the Japanese 6-3 7-6 (8) in their first-round match.

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Roger Federer's serve gradually improved throughout his opening match.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina outlasted Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (1) 4-6 6-4 in their second-round clash. "I think I always played her at her best level the matches before, so it was always tough". Perhaps no one was more excited than the fans in Cincinnati, who had not seen their seven-time champion in three years. Ekaterina Makarova cruised past qualifier Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-2. "I started the year very well".

"I tried to do my best in the third set and then until the end I played very aggressive and I'm very pleased with that".

Nishikori awaits in the next round after the Japanese star beat Rublev 7-5 6-3.

"We have been definitely thinking about the options with my hip".

Karolina Pliskova, the ninth seed, beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-3 6-3, while Belgian Elise Mertens also progressed after her 6-4 6-2 win over Magdalena Rybarikova, as did Australian Ashleigh Barty.