Riske ousts Kerber in Zhengzhou, Mladenovic advances

FILE PHOTO: Aug 29, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Alison Riske of the United States returns a shot against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in a second round match on day four of the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - American Alison Riske fought back from a set down to beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber 5-7 6-4 7-6(6) in the first round of the inaugural Zhengzhou Open on Tuesday, extending the former world number one’s poor run of form.

Riske held her nerve to save a match point in the third-set tiebreak before going on to inflict a fourth consecutive first-round defeat on Kerber, who was beaten by Kristina Mladenovic in her first match at the U.S. Open.

The German, a three-times Grand Slam champion, was beaten in the second round at Wimbledon and suffered first round defeats in Toronto and Cincinnati in the run-up to the year’s final Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows.

Mladenovic made short work of Chinese wildcard Duan Yingying earlier in the day, winning 6-2 6-3 to set up a second round meeting with fellow Frenchwoman and her former doubles partner Caroline Garcia.

“It was very tricky conditions. It’s super humid and it’s never easy to start a tournament,” said Mladenovic, who won 79% of her first serve points during the match.

“Every first round is difficult and Yingying, I’ve played her in the past and she’s a very powerful player with a big serve. I think the key today was the consistency on my serve, and I managed to read hers well, which is her biggest weapon.”

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko beat 23-year-old Chinese qualifier You Xiaodi 6-3 0-6 6-2 to reach the last 16, while France’s Fiona Ferro and Alize Cornet also advanced.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge