After Maria Sharapova pulled out of the tournament, it left a pretty gaping hole in the top half of the draw. First round action on day one has chucked the second quarter (and parts of the first too) into a blender as seed after seed departed. The first to go was Ana Ivanovic, who was ousted by Dominika Cibulkova in three sets (see full match recap HERE). It wasn’t a major surprise with Cibulkova’s credentials of being a Grand Slam finalist and a former top ten player. Svetlana Kuznetsova was the next one to go, falling in straight sets to Kristina Mladenovic, 6-3 7-5. Kuznetsova hadn’t played since Washington because of a leg injury so this was an expected result. Mladenovic has a really decent opening in this draw.
The next two upsets were definitely not expected… step forward, Anna Tatishvili and Oceane Dodin. Tatishvili and Dodin have combined for just four WTA main draw wins in 2015 but both players added to their tallies with victories over Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Jankovic respectively. Tatishvili was zoning at the end of her match against Pliskova, eventually pulling away at speed to prevail, 6-2 6-1 in less than an hour. It was a shocking result for Pliskova who was crowned the US Open Series champion after her points were doubled for playing more than three tournaments over the Summer… Eeeek. I didn’t have high hopes for Pliskova this fortnight but I never expected this loss or SCORELINE. She didn’t put up much, if any, resistance in the second set.
Dodin came from a set down to beat Jankovic, 2-6 7-5 6-3. The Frenchwoman is well known for her HUGE game but the results haven’t been there this year. Dodin’s only other main draw win at WTA level came at the Australian Open against Alison Riske but since then, hadn’t beaten a player in the world’s top 150. Sporting a heavily bandaged leg, Dodin held her nerve to serve out the match to love in the third set.
The upsets kept coming as Carla Suárez Navarro‘s losing streak was stretched to seven matches. She was beaten by Denisa Allertova, 6-1 7-6(5). The Czech player was down 1-4 and 3-5 in the second set and also saved SIX set points. She hit a gorgeous backhand down-the-line in the tiebreak and benefitted from a double fault by the Spaniard on match point. Suárez Navarro is really struggling right now and has won just one set since June. After looking in a comfortable position to qualify for Singapore, Carla will be out of the top eight come the end of the tournament.
Venus Williams survived joining the cull of seeds as she fought of an incredibly gutsy effort from Monica Puig. The Puerto Rican won the second set tiebreak by virtue of a double fault (but she had played some great tennis to force it) before succumbing in the third set, 6-4 6-7(7) 6-3. It was a decent win for Venus but you have to wonder how much this match may have taken out of her. In an all-American clash, the final seed to fall in day one was Sloane Stephens. She was defeated by CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. Sloane was broken serving with scoreboard pressure at *4-5 in the first set and looked passive and timid. I thought she would turn it around but CoCo had a good serving day, despite only getting 47% of first serves in.
Sooooo… in the second quarter of the draw we now know that one of Kasatkina, Konjuh, Jovanovski, Mladenovic, Svitolina, Kanepi, Davis, Makarova, Allertova, Vinci, Duque-Marino, Dodin, Bouchard, Hercog, Pegula or Cibulkova will be a US Open 2015 semi-finalist.
Errr wow… who are you going for?