While the top eight seeds had the advantage of playing their opening Western & Southern Open match Wednesday, upsets of top seeds were an early theme for women’s play on Wednesday.
Two-time Western & Southern Open finalist Angelique Kerber started the string of upsets by defeating fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina in three sets to take out the first seed of the day. Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova followed by claiming the win over seventh-seeded Bianca Andreescu while Paula Badosa edged third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka.
Naomi Osaka, the second seed who announced that she would donate all of her prize money from this year's tournament to aid the Haiti earthquake relief efforts, avoided an early exit in Wednesday’s second round despite losing her first set. Osaka responded for a three-set win over Coco Gauff in her first non-Major match against the 17-year-old American.
“For me, as her opponent, I really love that atmosphere and seeing so many people being engaged in the match is really nice,” Osaka said. “I'm excited when I hear that it's a rivalry. I think rivalries build the sport. Federer-Nadal definitely did amazing things for tennis. It would be amazing to have something like that on the women's side.”
World No. 1 and top seeded Ashleigh Barty was also in action for the first time, but was facing qualifier Heather Watson, who already had three wins this week. Barty, a 2019 Western & Southern Open semifinalist, downed Watson 6-4, 7-6(3) in her first tour level event since being crowned Wimbledon champion.
“Obviously Heather has been playing some really good stuff of late, and particularly here winning a couple matches through quallies and a first round,” Barty said. “You know it's always going to be tough against someone who is familiar with those conditions. Just had to allow myself some time just to get used to what was happening.”
The upsets were not contained in the singles action. Anna Blinkova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich eliminated top-seeded Su-Wei Hsieh & Elise Mertens, the reigning Wimbledon champions, in the women’s doubles draw.
Main draw action continues Thursday at 11 a.m.
Recap presented by The Recovery Room