DOHA: World number two Angelique Kerber finally got to play her first match at the rain-affected Qatar Open on Thursday then promptly crashed out of the tournament.
On another wet day in the desert, Kerber lost 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 to Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina in a second round match. The German had received a first round bye.
“Of course it’s always tough to play the first matches after a longer break,” said the former number one afterwards.
“But I was not feeling the best today. I’m trying to find my rhythm. But she plays good.
“I think it was, for sure, not my day. I was not feeling the best today,” she added.
She told German-speaking reporters that she had been suffering from a cold but did not want to make “a drama out of this”.
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It was the second time this year that Kerber has lost to the 19-year-old Russian, after being defeated 7-6, 6-2 at the Sydney International last month.
The tournament had started on Monday, but Kerber had faced a frustrating wait to get out on court because of the wet conditions.
Rain has interrupted every day’s play so far as Qatar suffers some of its wettest weather in years.
Kerber’s defeat caps a miserable start to 2017 for the German who lost in the fourth round in Melbourne as she sought to defend her Australian Open title.
To make things worse, the eventual winner Serena Williams then reclaimed Kerber’s number one world ranking.
The defeat also denied Doha a repeat of last year’s Olympics final, as Kasatkina instead won through to play gold medallist Monica Puig in a last eight clash. That match also began on Thursday.
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It was tied at one set all, the Russian took the first set 6-4, while Puig hit back to take the second 7-5, with the Puerto Rican 2-1 up in the decider before the inevitable rain struck again and play was halted for the day.
Also suspended because of the weather was Caroline Wozniacki’s quarter-final clash against American qualifier Lauren Davis.
The pair managed only one game on a side court before being stopped for the day. Earlier, the Dane had beaten close friend Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3.
“We always have great matches,” said the Dane afterwards. “It was a tough match but I was pleased.”
Only one player, Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, has so far won through to the semi-finals as rain has decimated the schedule. She beat Australia’s Samantha Stosur 7-5, 6-4, and will play the winner of the match between the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova and China’s Zhang Shuai.
Pliskova, the number two seed, had earlier on Thursday beaten France's Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-4.