Top seed Venus Williams’ bid to win the WTA Istanbul Cup ended at the first hurdle on July 21, as the American
icon lost 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko.
Williams, ranked No. 14 in the world, is no stranger to being upset by Bondarenko, as the 28-year-old Ukrainian beat her when the American
was third in the world in Toronto in 2009. Bondarenko - who retired from the circuit at the end of 2012 before returning two years later - looked to be cruising at 6-4, 5-2 before the 35-year-old Williams rediscovered her touch and fighting spirit and battled back to even serve for the set.
However, Bondarenko, whose highest rank was No. 29 in 2009, woke up from her mini slump and won 11 of the last 15 points to take the match.
“I gave my best effort today,” Williams said after the match.
“Your first match is never perfect. She’s played matches in the qualification and just never missed today, making great shots all game long.
“I’m really sad. I came here to play and to win but I ran into an opponent that was just too hot today. On a day like today I’m upset - it’s normal, it’s human. I calm myself down and focus and come back.
“That moment is that moment. We move on,” she said.
In the second day’s last match, Turkish player İpek Soylu beat American
Anna Tatishvili, who faced injury problems with her shoulder and had to quit in the third set after a draw at the end of first two sets, granting world No. 190 Soylu her first match in her WTA singles career.
Çağla Büyükakçay lost to Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the cup.
Responding to questions from the media, Çağla Büyükakçay said, “I could not play well during the crucial points. I played against a great player and she forced me to make errors. I move forward every year. I think I am doing many things better.”
Berfu Cengiz and Melis Sezer, the other two Turkish players at the tournament, could not advance to the main draw.