Serena Williams is out of the Cincinnati Masters, losing in the second round to the eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova. Williams won her opener against Daria Gavrilova, but couldn’t do the damage she needed to against Kvitova’s serve on Tuesday. Kvitova won the match in three sets, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
Kvitova, who did not play a first-round match due to being a top-8 seed, advances to the third round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where she will face Kristina Mladenovic.
Williams fought off an early break in the first set, thanks to a well-timed challenge, but ultimately was broken twice, 6-3. In the second set, Williams was quickly down on Kvitova’s serve, but on the second one, she fought hard and the game went over 10 minutes before Williams got the break on her fifth try. The rest of the set included some very close games, but Williams won it, forcing a third.
In the third, Williams went up a break on the very first game, but then gave up a break on the ensuing serve. After both held once, Kvitova scored a break to go up 4-2 in the third set. She then held to go up 5-2. Williams held and threatened a break to hold on, but Kvitova eventually sealed it, taking the set and match.
This was Williams’ first tournament since she entered the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, where she suffered the most lopsided loss of her career to Johanna Konta in the opening round. She looked great in the win over Gavrilova, and didn’t look egregiously bad against Kvitova, but simply couldn’t get it done.
In the first round, because she did not have a bye due to being unseeded, Williams faced Gavrilova, a woman she had faced twice before but not since 2016. She bested Gavrilova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. She looked fast, powerful and handled Gavrilova with seeming ease.
Williams returned from the birth of her child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., and health complications that came with it, earlier this year. She competed at the French Open and Wimbledon as well as a couple other tournaments, none of which she won. She made it to the fourth round of Roland Garros before withdrawing with a pectoral injury, and made it to the final of Wimbledon, where she fell to another top player, Angelique Kerber.
After that, Williams skipped the Rogers Cup for personal reasons (not uncommon among top players by any means), but is playing in Cincinnati to prepare for the US Open, which begins at the end of August. She also entered the Silicon Valley Classic, where she suffered the aforementioned loss to Konta.
But other than that loss, she’s looked plenty good — far too good to even consider the possibility that she’s “lost it.” The Cincinnati tournament is the final major tune-up prior to the start of the US Open, and like Roger Federer, who also skipped the Rogers Cup, she elected to play.
Kvitova will go on to face Mladenovic in the third round. Mladenovic is coming off a straight-sets victory over Viktoria Kuzmova on Tuesday. The winner of that match would go on to face one of Sloane Stephens, Tatjana Maria, Elise Mertens or Rebecca Peterson. The first two in that list will play each other on Wednesday, as will the latter two.
Williams should be sighted next at the US Open.