'What is happening': Tennis fans in disbelief at pre-Wimbledon drama

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·Sports Editor
·4-min read
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Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitollina and Aryna Sabalenka, pictured here in action in Berlin.
Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitollina and Aryna Sabalenka all crashed out of the Berlin event at the first hurdle. Image: Getty

Tennis fans were left stunned on Wednesday when the top three seeds at the WTA grass-court event in Berlin crashed out at the first hurdle.

Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu all lost to lower-ranked opponents in a brutal start to their grass-court campaigns ahead of Wimbledon.

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World No.4 Sabalenka was beaten in three sets by Madison Keys, going down 6-4 1-6 7-5 as the American demonstrated the sort of form which saw her reach the US Open final four years ago and make the world's top six.

Svitolina (World No.6) lost 6-4 7-5 to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, while Andreescu (World No.7) went down 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 to Alize Cornet.

Sabalenka, Svitolina and Andreescu were the top three seeds with Ash Barty (rest), Naomi Osaka (mental health) and Simona Halep (injury) all absent from the tournament.

It means the draw has completely opened up for World No.12 Belinda Bencic, who advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 win over Petra Martic.

Tennis fans were left in disbelief over the crazy chaos.

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Madison Keys a dark horse for Wimbledon

The 26-year-old Keys, now down to 28 in the world, hit eight aces and outlasted the Belarusian Sabalenka to win in just under two hours.

It was the first time Keys has reached the quarter-finals of a WTA event since January 2020, when she finished runner-up in Brisbane.

The American showed she could prove a dangerous floater at Wimbledon as a two-time grass court tournament winner.

Madison Keys, pictured here in action against Aryna Sabalenka in Berlin.
Madison Keys in action against Aryna Sabalenka in Berlin. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic was left frustrated at missing out on a quarter-final place at the Birmingham Classic after she was derailed by a stomach complaint and a rejuvenated opponent.

The Australian No.2, who had earned one of her most striking wins of the year when she outlasted the No.1 seed Elise Mertens on Tuesday, had looked set to follow suit when she went a set up in her last-16 match with Coco Vandeweghe on Wednesday.

But after not feeling well in the heat and struggling with a stomach ailment, Tomljanovic ended up losing 6-4 4-6 3-6 to the big-hitting American who's on the comeback trail after an injury-plagued few years.

"I had a pretty bad stomach ache," Tomljanovic told AAP. 

"It started at the beginning of the match, but near the end of the second set, it was getting worse."

Tomljanovic had already talked to the doctor on court and, while Vandeweghe was having a medical time out after accidentally cutting her left hand, the Australian asked if she could leave court to take a bathroom break at the same time. Her request was turned down.

"I guess the ruling was I couldn't do it because she was serving next. I was told if I went over the time limit (if I left court), then I could end up getting warned and time violations, so I didn't."

with AAP

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