I am really looking forward to the week ahead as the 2018 Volvo Car Open in Charleston takes centre stage. There is also a WTA International tournament in Monterrey taking place this week where Garbiñe Muguruza is the top seed. My focus will be solely on Charleston as it’s one of my favourite stops on the calendar. Read on for nine stories from day 1 of main draw action in Charleston.
Siegemund’s first WTA tour level win of 2018
In her first WTA tournament of 2018, Laura Siegemund got off to a great start with a 7-5 6-2 first round win over Natalia Vikhlyantseva. From 1-4 down in the first set, Siegemund won 12 of the last 15 games and dropped just five points on serve in the second set. I’ve never been a fan of Siegemund’s on-court antics but her game on clay is so much fun to watch.
Osaka in fine form
Naomi Osaka produced another super display to beat Jennifer Brady, 6-4 6-4. Brady played a pretty solid match so Osaka had to be on her game. The Japanese player was very secure in all aspects of her game and showcased some impressive variety on her serve. I’m just loving watching Osaka right now and she gets Siegemund in the second round which could be all kinds of fun.
Lepchenko beats Petkovic
Varvara Lepchenko won her first match in Charleston since 2013 (via Tennis Abstract) by beating the 2014 champion, Andrea Petkovic, 6-4 7-5. Lepchenko became passive and retreated behind the baseline when serving for the match at *5-2 and *5-4 in the second set. The American player missed two match points at *5-2. Lepchenko refocused at 5-5, dictating once again with powerful strikes off the forehand wing. I’m sad for Petkovic and would love to have seen her go on a run here. She’s always fighting hard on court. Her game though lacks a weapon and inconsistency is all too often her downfall.
Gavrilova back from the brink
The number 11 seed, Daria Gavrilova survived a scare with a 1-6 6-4 6-3 win over Ons Jabeur. There were two key games in this one where Gavrilova saved a trio of break points to win them both – a nine deuce game (!) at 4-4 in the second set and digging out of a *0-40 hole at *4-2 in the decider. Jabeur hit the shot of the day (nothing on the WTA’s Twitter page) and started really well. The errors kept coming and key opportunities passed by Jabeur as Gavrilova knuckled down with a gritty display. A nice hug at the net! 🤗🤗🤗
Another one to watch – Caroline Dolehide!
My favourite match of the day was fourth up on the wonderful Althea Gibson Club Court between Johanna Larsson and Caroline Dolehide. I’ve seen bits of the 19-year-old, Dolehide, but this was my first full match experience. I was mega impressed.
From a set down and saving seven of eight break points in the decider, Dolehide scored a 5-7 6-0 6-4 victory in two hours and 15 minutes. Dolehide has such an interesting game – big serve with kick, a willingness to serve and volley, big forehand, drop shots and slices off the backhand with plenty of feel, and VERY solid overhead. The drop shots didn’t always work. When they did, they were pretty special! The American got very passive at the end of the first set having blown a 4-1 lead. Dolehide went big and bold in the final two sets and was feeling the forehand in the decider. The base game is strong and I really admired her positivity in the big moments.
Stephens out of Charleston
Sloane Stephens has withdrawn from Charleston due to fatigue. Talking of Sloane, I quite enjoyed the latest WTA Insider podcast after her win in Miami.
The defending champ is back!
Here’s a video from the Tennis Channel of Daria Kasatkina returning to Charleston. Sadly, Shelby Rogers is out injured and won’t be able to compete in her home tournament this week. I’m looking forward to more of #ShelbyOnSite!
Twitter follows for Charleston
Tuesday’s preview of R1 matches
A preview for the remaining first round matches to be played in Charleston on Tuesday is up on the blog.