The main draw of the 2015 Family Circle Cup in Charleston kicked off today with Mona Barthel progressing into the second round after a convincing 6-3 6-3 victory over Timea Babos in 70 minutes. Mona’s last outing in Charleston was a disappointing straight sets loss to Jessica Pegula in 2013, but this was a much more committed display from the German player. She settled more quickly than Babos and after coming through a tight service game at 1-1, she broke serve and then held to go up 4-1. Although Barthel’s second serve was weak and inviting, it was her first serve that was setting up the points well. Furthermore, Babos was struggling to do anything meaningful on return and that was one of the discussions she had with her coach at one of the changeovers. Barthel served out the set to 15, finishing the set was a delightful drop shot.
Barthel had a dip at the start of the second set, quickly going down a break. She stemmed the tide in the next game with a break back in another deuce game. Barthel continued to be the more consistent player, both on serve and from the baseline. From 0-2 down, she won six of the next seven games to seal her place in the second round where she will play Bethanie Mattek-Sands or Sloane Stephens (preview of that first round match HERE). This was a really pleasing display from Mona, who was more aggressive than in her previous matches in 2015. The court surface seemed to suit her game and she was consistent, but also willing to go for those down-the-line winners. The match was nicely complimented by Vladka Uhilrova’s commentary on TennisTV who has been a revelation this year. I’m hoping there will be more matches during the clay court season with Vladka and Guy McCrea, who make a great commentary team. We all seem to enjoy (me included) bashing bad commentators, but it’s nice to be able to praise the rare good ones!
In other results, Donna Vekic won just her second WTA main draw match of the year with a three set victory over Heather Watson, 7-5 in the third set. There were also wins for Shelby Rogers, Ajla Tomljanovic, Lauren Davis, Tatjana Maria, Yaroslava Shvedova, Chanelle Scheepers and Evgeniya Rodina. For Rogers, a player I had tipped to do well at the start of the year (oops), this was her first WTA main draw of the year. Charleston is a great tournament and I am thoroughly looking forward to the week ahead. For a full preview of the main draw, check out my preview HERE. Lindsay Gibbs from The Changeover, one of my favourite tennis blogs, is in Charleston this week and wrote a great summary of this weekend’s qualifying matches, which you can read HERE. While you’re on The Changeover, also check out Amy Fetherolf’s piece on Juan Martin del Potro, which is awesome.