The main draw for the 2016 Volvo Car Open began in Charleston on Monday. This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year so I am intending to keep up with the Set Points articles during the week. Day 1 saw four seeds in action with one falling at the first hurdle. There were notable wins for players who had struggled in 2016. Read on for accounts of matches played, plus some highlights from Tennis Twitter…
Former Charleston champion, Sabine Lisicki snapped a three match losing streak with a much needed victory in the first round, beating Irina Falconi, 6-4 6-3. Lisicki lost her last match in Miami from 5-0 up in the third set against Irina-Camelia Begu. While Lisicki had her wobbles during what was a messy match, she came back from a break down in both sets and convincingly served it out at the end. All in all, a good day for Lisicki and nice to see that smile again!
I haven’t managed to find a replay of it but Falconi hit an incredible tweener shot during the first set (see picture in second tweet below!)
Sabine spoke about her love of Charleston in a heartwarming post-match interview. She also said how nervous she was and it required many deep breaths! The German player also encouraged the crowd to wear pink on Wednesday night (Charleston are having an event in support of the Susan G. Komen® for the Cure Lowcountry) as she said that one of her friends recently passed away from cancer. For each person wearing pink through the gates on Wednesday, the Volvo Car Open will make a donation to cancer research, community health outreach and advocacy programs… nice :-).
Miami, 24th of March: Zarina Diyas d. Daria Gavrilova, 7-5 6-3
Charleston, 4th of April: Daria Gavrilova d. Zarina Diyas, 6-1 1-6 6-3
This has happened a few times this year! For Gavrilova, it was a huge win having failed to serve out the first set against Diyas in Miami and also lost in Indian Wells having failed to serve out the match against Magdalena Rybarikova. Gavrilova won the first set handily, hitting with both intensity and depth; however Diyas, who saved all five break points she faced in the second set, played much more aggressively to earn a breadstick of her own. Gavrilova lost her early break in the decider but resettled, serving it out to 15 as Diyas failed to get returns in play in the final game of the match.
Lourdes Dominguez Lino’s three set victory over Christina McHale was a surprise result based on their respective rankings… but it was a hearty hello to the clay court season! This was Dominguez Lino’s first victory on the tour since winning her first round match at Roland Garros against none other than… Christina McHale (credit to @jakedavi5 on Twitter for the stat). On that occasion, the American player had served for the match and missed two match points with the Spaniard prevailing, 3-6 7-6(4) 6-4.
Kristina Mladenovic snapped a four match losing streak, defeating Tatjana Maria in the first round, 6-4 6-3. Mladenovic had to come from a break down in both sets and even saved a break point to go down a double break in the first set. It’s been a tough start to the year for Kiki and this was only her fourth win on the WTA tour in 2016. I wonder whether playing a pretty full schedule on the IPTL during the off-season was the best move but perhaps clay will be the answer to her recent woes. She will play Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in one of two second round matches scheduled for Tuesday.
In the only match of the day to be decided by a third set tiebreak, Irina-Camelia Begu scored a noteworthy win over Caroline Garcia, 6-4 2-6 7-6(3). It looked like the turning point might be at 4-4 in the third set where Garcia won four straight points from *15-40 down on serve to hold to 5-4. However, the Frenchwoman was unable to make any inroads on the Begu serve and committed a string of unforced errors in the tiebreak. Begu was happy about this win!
A reminder that aside from the two courts being streamed on TennisTV (and other platforms), you can watch coverage from all the outside courts using the link HERE thanks to Stre.am.
Monday was All Access Hour in Charleston. If you’re on Twitter then I recommend giving Tennis Atlantic (@TennisAtlantic) a follow… they’re do a great job this week.
On a non-Charleston note, this actually made me smile on a Monday morning which I can tell you NEVER HAPPENS…
And finally, if you read one thing today, please make it this article from Nicole Gibbs. In her third article for the WTA Insider, it’s a refreshingly honest and frankly fabulous read.