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Rybarikova rallies past McHale at Citi Open

July 30, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — No. 2 seed Sloane Stephens, playing her first match since Wimbledon, fell to unseeded Olga Puchkova 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Citi Open on Monday.

In the men’s event, Mardy Fish rebounded from an early exit in Atlanta and losing the first set to defeat Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

The struggles started early for the 15th-ranked Stephens, the highest-ranked American behind Serena Williams. She fell behind 0-3 and lost her serve three times in the opening set.

The 20-year-old, who lost to eventual Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli in the quarterfinals on July 2, dropped her serve three more times in the final set.

Battling back from a heart condition, Fish only played four matches in 2013 before facing Ebden, including a first-round loss last week.

After dropping the opening set, the 31-year-old Ebden turned the momentum by winning the lengthy opening game of the second set. He capped the service break with a cross-court winner and took the next three games for a 4-0 lead.

Defending champion and No. 7 seed Magdalena Rybarikova rallied past Christina McHale for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Playing with a wrap on her left thigh because of a lower back injury, Rybarikova twice lost serve in the opening set. The 43rd-ranked Slovak rebounded as McHale also struggled on her serve.

“Her game went down and I had my chances,” said Rybarikova, who broke McHale three times in the final set. “Especially in the third set, I really played my game.”

Along with Stephens, McHale is one of 11 American women ranked in the top 100.

In other first-round matches, 2011 champion Radek Stepanek defeated American Steve Johnson 7-6 (3), 6-3. Somdev Devvarman, David Goffin and Paula Ormaechea also advanced.

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