Halep Holds On, Venus Makes Early Exit

Lucie Safarova notched her first win against Venus Williams today at the W&S Open.
Venus Williams falls in the first round in Cincinnati.
Wild card Christina McHale advances to the second round.
Madison Keys falls to former champion Maria Sharapova.
Former champion Maria Sharapova is the first woman to advance to the third round.

In a late night battle on Center Court the new World No.2, Simona Halep, defeated a tough Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-2 to register only her fourth win at the Western & Southern Open.


The Romanian young gun broke Flipkens five times in their 90 minute match. It was no easy feat, with Halep recording nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners.


She is one of three women advancing to the third round in Cincinnati and awaits the winner of Lucie Safarova versus qualifier Zarina Diyas.


Safarova dismantled big serving Venus Williams 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4 in their first round meeting at the Lindner Family Tennis Center Tuesday.


After only notching two points in the first set tiebreak, the No.16 seed broke the seven-time Grand Slam champion four times in the last two sets.


It looked as though Safarova had won, serving 5-2 for the match. An overrule kept Venus in it, as she broke the Czech for only the second time in the match and held for 4-5. At the two and a half hour mark, Safarova served out the match and notched her first win over Williams. She advances to the second round for the third time in her career.


In an anticipated second round match-up, former champion Maria Sharapova defeated young Madison Keys 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.


In the 30 minute first set, Keys registered nearly double the unforced errors as Sharapova, and was broken two times. The American picked up her game in the second set, hitting twice as many winners as she did in the first set to force the French Open Champion to a deciding set.


The final set was all Sharapova, as she breezed in to the third round for the third time in her career.


It only took former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki 72 minutes to defeat China’s Shuai Zhang 6-2, 6-3. Wozniacki broke Zhang five times en route to the second round win. She is through to the third round for the fourth time in her career and awaits the winner of Ekaterina Makarova versus  Angelique Kerber.


American wild card Christina McHale recorded a tough 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over fellow countrywoman Nicole Gibbs in their first round match.


Gibbs, a Cincinnati native and former NCAA champion, saved six break points in her first four service games of the match and clinched the first set in 46 minutes. McHale came out firing in the second and third sets, breaking Gibbs five times en route to the win.


McHale is through to the second round in Cincinnati for the third time in her career, where she will meet No.9 seed Ana Ivanovic.


Earlier in the day, defending champion Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the 2014 tournament with a right knee injury.


“This is probably the biggest disappointment, to not be able to play in front of this amazing crowd,” said Azarenka. The former Grand Slam Champion says she will be ready to compete in the US Open.