- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2012

Magdalena Rybarikova arrived in Washington on Saturday for the 2012 Citi Open, the first trip to the U.S. capital for the Slovakian professional tennis player. Thanks to an upset on Day 1 of the tournament, she’ll be extending her stay a little bit longer.

Rybarikova, who came into the Citi Open unseeded, beat No. 2-seeded Chanelle Scheepers of Russia on Tuesday, 6-2, 6-1. Scheepers is currently ranked No. 42 in the world.

Rybarikova said she usually needs four days to adjust to the time difference in the United States but conceded that the short turnaround might have benefited her this go around, as it didn’t allow her much time to over-think her match.

The upset means Rybarikova will play Eleni Daniilidou of Greece on Wednesday in the second round. In addition to Scheepers’ early exit, fifth-seeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova also lost on Monday, leaving a potentially easier road for Rybarikova as the tournament proceeds.

But she refuses to look past the very next match.

“I’m absolutely not looking at that,” Rybarikova said. “I’m going step by step.”

She and Jana Cepelova are the only Slovakian players participating in the Citi Open, which brings together a field of 32 women for the singles main draw.

Rybarikova said she hasn’t seen much of the city yet but looks forward to exploring it and visiting The White House. And even though the first-place Washington Nationals will be in town during her visit, don’t expect to see Rybarikova at Nationals Park.

“To be honest,” a laughing Rybarikova said, “I think baseball is a very boring game.”

Baker upset in first-round play

Wild card and crowd favorite Brian Baker has come back from five significant injuries over a span of six years, but he couldn’t come back on the court Monday night. The 27-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native fell in three sets to qualifier Florent Serra, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6.

The Citi Open is Baker’s third consecutive first-round exit, one he said was the result of too many unforced errors (43).

“All summer I’ve played pretty clean matches and still [have been] able to be pretty aggressive at times when I should’ve,” he said after the match. “Today definitely was not my day.”

The crowd at Rock Creek Park’s Stadium Court did its best to cheer Baker back into the match late, but he continued to miss easy shots and looked visibly rattled. Baker had three double faults and committed 16 unforced errors in the third set.

“I definitely haven’t played my best tennis at all the last three weeks,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve competed poorly, I just haven’t won the big points. I haven’t given myself a lot of chances on the big points, made some poor choices on those points and that’s what happens.”

Baker’s loss will surely affect his world ranking, which moved up one spot to No. 78 on Monday; however, he is still a lock to compete in the U.S. Open next month.


• Fortunately for tournament organizers, James Blake defeated fifth-seeded Pablo Andujar of Spain in three sets (4-6, 6-2, 6-2). With an already depleted field, some worried that too many of the tournament’s big draws would fall in the early rounds.

• America’s Coco Vanderweghe and Sloane Stephens both lived up to their billings in the singles draw, as the seventh-ranked Vandeweghe won in straight sets (6-4, 6-1), and No. 3 Stephens battled back to win in three (6-3, 2-6, 6-1).

• Rock Creek Park dipped into the 70s by the start of Monday’s final match and Tuesday is projected to be the coolest day all week, with a high of 86 degrees.

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