Upsets as seeds kept off the grass

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EASTBOURNE: Petra Kvitova will kick off the defence of her Wimbledon title next week without a win on grass this year after losing 7-5, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova in her opening match here.

The second seed was joined on the sidelines on the English south coast by top seed Agnie-szka Radwanska, who lost to Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-4.

“I had nothing to lose, so I just tried to play my best game,” said Pironkova.

“She’s a really tough opponent and is playing unbelievable on grass.

“I was just really enjoying it and wanted to show my best tennis – that helped today.”

Meanwhile, a stunned Radwanska could offer little insight into her first-round loss.

“It was not my day today, that’s for sure,” said the Pole. “I’ve had a lot of matches this year and I’m a bit tired. I was trying everything, but she is playing really well on grass.”

Kvitova, the Czech who beat Maria Sharapova in last year’s Wimbledon final, was humbled at Devonshire Park in 91 minutes by Makarova, who benefited from six Kvitova double-faults and broke the second seed five times.

Russian Makarova’s win allowed her to take revenge for a defeat to Kvitova here in the second round a year ago.

Makarova, ranked 48th in the world, won the Eastbourne title in 2010 and was also impressive on grass last week in Birmingham when she reached the semi-finals.

Elsewhere, German fifth seed Angelique Kerber rallied past Elena Vesnina of Russia 3-6, 6-0, 7-5, Czech Klara Zakopalova beat China’s Zheng Jie 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 while Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Hsieh Su-Wei as the Taiwan player retired trailing 6-2, 3-0.

On the men’s side, Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan upset French fifth seed Julien Benneteau 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4).

Belgian Steve Darcis put out Australian Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-4 and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan beat Michael Llodra of France 6-4, 6-3. – Sapa-AFP

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