Top seeds Stephens, Keys exit Washington DC

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Since winning the Washington DC title in 2015, Sloane Stephens has gone just 1-4 in her next five matches at the tournament (Getty Images)
Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Coco Gauff fall in the first round of the Citi Open in Washington DC.

Top seed and former champion Sloane Stephens and teenager Cori Gauff lost their first-round matches at the WTA’s Washington Open.

World No.8 Stephens suffered a shock 6-2 7-5 defeat to Rebecca Peterson on Tuesday while qualifier Gauff bowed out 6-4 6-2 to Zarina Diyas.

Joining her countrywomen on the sidelines was second seed and world No.17 Madison Keys, who was stunned by 17-year-old wildcard Hailey Baptiste, the world No.283.

“We both train a lot in Orlando at USTA, so I see her around campus. She’s somebody that I always looked up to,” Baptiste told wtatennis.com.

“Half of the match, I couldn’t really feel my legs. I don’t know, like, I really can’t describe what it felt like, but it was amazing. Having everybody in the crowd cheering for me, I knew every other person in the crowd, it felt really good.”

Stephens, whose best result this year was a run to the Madrid semifinals in May, was misfiring from the start and never managed to settle into much of a groove in her first meeting with the world No.70 Peterson.

Swede Peterson enjoyed a dream start as she raced out to a 5-2 lead and ultimately took the opening set in 29 minutes when Stephens sent a routine backhand from the baseline into the net.

Stephens, who triumphed here in 2015, led the second set 5-4 but Peterson broke back to get back on serve and never looked back.

“It feels great. I’m really happy with the way I performed today, but it was also quite tough,” Peterson told wtatennis.com. “I’ve had some really tough losses this year against a lot of good players (she was 0-5 against top-20 players in 2019 before this match), so I’m really happy I got this win.”

Gauff, the 15-year-old sensation who made a stunning run to the fourth round at Wimbledon, was unable to impose her will over Kazakhstan’s Diyas.

The turning point came at the end of the first set as Diyas converted her fourth set point of the game when Gauff sent a forehand into the net. That brought an end to a game that had lasted more than 10 minutes and left youngster Gauff visibly frustrated.

Gauff did herself no favours when she made her 33rd unforced error on match point.

Olympic champion Monica Puig advanced to the second round with a 6-4 6-2 victory over American Allie Kiick while others to reach the last 16 included Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.

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