Monday marked the first day of main draw action at the 2017 Volvo Car Open and sadly, the first match on the Volvo Car Stadium ended in a retirement. In floods of tears, Katerina Siniakova was forced to retire in the third set with a back injury, which she had a medical time-out for midway through the first set.
The Czech player battled on valiantly and actually played some decent tennis! Her drop shots were mostly superb and she owned Puig at the net. However, her groundstrokes and serve became more and more erratic as she increasingly lost patience. Playing against an injured player can be challenging but Puig maintained her focus for the most part in the second and third sets. Siniakova pulled the plug with Puig leading 4-6 6-2 4-1. It was horrible to see Katerina so upset!
Building the points better and wearing down her opponent with time, Naomi Osaka had an excellent come-from-behind victory over Johanna Larsson, 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2. Osaka produced some sensational tennis to go up 4-0 in the third set and served out the match to love. Osaka is still 100% in first round matches in 2017.
Wins have been hard to come by for Andrea Petkovic since St. Petersburg. Playing one of her feel-good tournaments, Petkovic produced one of her best displays of the year to see off a competent clay courter in Lara Arruabarrena, 7-5 6-2. A resilient and aggressive, Petkovic came back from a break down three times in the first set, seizing on Arruabarrena’s lack of depth off the ground and lack of ruthlessness on serve when in the lead. Petkovic drew away at the end and she was playing well. A very encouraging win!
Petkovic was followed by Jelena Jankovic who also had a solid win over a very erratic, Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-0 6-4. Alexandrova won the ITF tournament in Croissy-Beaubourg on Saturday and i’m slightly baffled why she was forced to play on Monday. Alexandrova struggled to keep the ball in court during the first set as a consistent Jankovic, who made just four unforced errors, eased to a bagel.
The second set was closer as Alexandrova found more lines. Jankovic lost her focus, as has become increasingly so over the years, when she served up three double faults to lose her early break. The Serb’s baseline game though was working well and she looked very comfortable on the clay, moving so naturally on this surface. Jankovic had blown match points in her last two matches on tour (V.Williams in Indian Wells and Shvedova in Miami) and before serving for the match, was breathing heavily on the changeover.
Jankovic opened with a double fault and was noticeablly passive, but Alexandrova didn’t test those nerves as she committed more unforced errors. All in all, a good start for JJ.
In other matches on day 1 of main draw action in Charleston:
From a break down in both sets, Kateryna Bondarenko recorded her third consecutive straight sets win over Evgeniya Rodina, 6-4 7-5. Bondarenko was three times down a break in the opener and then recovered a 0-4 deficit in the second set.
Alison Riske recorded her first win since Dubai over American wildcard, Kayla Day, 7-5 4-6 6-0. After two tight sets, Riske rolled through the decider as the more dynamic hitter, moving Day effectively from side-to-side. Still, i’m really impressed with these first few outings on the tour for the 17-year-old.
Ons Jabeur won her fifth WTA main draw match of 2017, taking advantage of a lucky loser spot in the draw with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Marina Erakovic.
In the longest match of the day and one that will be tough to beat in terms of time all week, Laura Siegemund beat Lesia Tsurenko, 6-7(7) 6-2 7-6(4). It was only Siegemund’s second win of the year, her first also coming in a third set tiebreak against Silvia Soler-Espinosa in Dubai.
Play was eventually called for the day due to an almighty thunderstorm.
Two matches currently in progress will join Tuesday’s schedule.
Veronica Cepede Royg leads Shelby Rogers, *3-1 *15-15
Kristina Kucova and Silvia Soler Espinosa are tied at 5-7 7-5 *2-2
The doubles draw in Charleston looks fun and will start on Tuesday – notable pairings include Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic, Daria Gavrilova and Daria Kasatkina, and Lauren Davis and Shelby Rogers.
Tuesday’s match of the day will be the first and only of the second rounders between Sam Stosur and Jelena Jankovic at 7pm local time. Both love this tournament and are former champions, and both lost matches from match point up during the Indian Wells-Miami double. I think this could be a bit of a hot mess, but should be entertaining nonetheless. I’d have more faith in Stosur pulling out the win – I could see the nerves from Jankovic in closing out her first round win, but perhaps that win will have settled her because she did play well.
Staying on JJ… PETKO AND JJ AGAIN!
A reminder of Petko and JJ in Charleston… hoping for part 3!
The players party looked fun… the players always seems to enjoy Charleston.
And finally, in the anticipation for Charleston, I wrote about some of my favourite matches from the tournament over the past five years.