Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown
CINCINNATI: Serena Williams pulled out of the WTA/ATP Cincinnati Masters at the first hurdle on Tuesday, losing in straight sets to US Open champion Emma Raducanu as the end of her glittering career draws ever closer.
Williams, who indicated last week that she planned to retire after this month’s US Open, was no match for British teenager Raducanu, who won 6-4, 6-0.
Williams, 40, left the court shortly after the loss without speaking to television reporters and did not hold a press conference.
Raducanu beat Williams early in both sets to claim victory in her first and likely last encounter with the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.
“I was nervous from the first to the last point,” said Raducanu. “Serena is dangerous and can come back from any situation.
“I had to stay focused. I’m so glad I managed to keep my cool.
Williams, winner of titles here in 2014 and 2015, was only playing his fourth match of 2022 after starting his season at Wimbledon through injury.
Raducanu announced his intentions early on with a break at Williams’ love and never let go.
The young Brit has improved to 14 wins, 17 losses since winning the Open last September from a qualifying start.
Raducanu meanwhile said she was honored to be part of the show on Tuesday in what was one of Williams’ last matches as a professional.
“We all have to pay tribute to Serena and her amazing career,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the experience of playing her and the fact that our careers crossed paths.
“Everything she has accomplished is inspiring. It is a real honor to share the court with her.
Raducanu never let Williams into the game.
The young 10th-seeded Londoner took a 4-1 lead in the first set and swept the second completely, advancing on her first match point, an unrecoverable serve.
Raducanu committed just one unforced error in the first set against a dozen for Williams.
Williams’ older sister Venus suffered a 7-5, 6-1 loss earlier in the day, losing to 2016 champion Karolina Pliskova.
In the men’s draw of the joint event, Nick Kyrgios started the final major US Open tune-up with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
The Aussie qualified with 29 winners – including 10 aces – and three breaks from the Spaniard’s serve to reach the second round.
Kyrgios, ranked 28th, has won all 11 of his first-round matches this season and won his 22nd match since returning to the ATP in June after skipping the clay-court season.
He now faces his good friend Taylor Fritz after the American crushed Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1.
“Physically I didn’t feel the best, but you have to keep pushing, keep trying,” Kyrgios said.
“Alejandro is a hell of a player, he has a lot of shots at his disposal. I had to serve well and dictate,” added the quarter-finalist from Montreal. “It was difficult conditions there, the courts are much more lively than in Montreal, it was more difficult to control the ball.”
It marked a happy return to Cincinnati for Kyrgios, who was fined a record $113,000 in a spectacular collapse at the tournament in 2019.
“I played amazing tennis here and had some crazy outbursts,” he said. “It’s a flip side of the coin as to whether Kyrgios shows up here.”
Elsewhere, Spain’s third seed Carlos Alcaraz advanced on his tournament debut, beating American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.
Italy’s 10th seed Jannik Sinner celebrated his 21st birthday by defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).