And Then There Were Four

As the quarterfinals began yesterday at the Volvo Car Open, eight women were filled with happiness and hope.  For a great many pros, getting this far is often considered a fine showing.  But, of course, the desire for more is always present. 

The most compelling moments came during the day’s third quarterfinal featuring Shelby Rogers and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Hometown heroine Rogers started off the Volvo Car Open by squeaking out a third-set tiebreaker win over a qualifier, Veronica Cepede Royg. She then thrilled Charlestonians with a stirring upset over the number one seed, Madison Keys and then beat another rising star, Naomi Osaka.  In the quarters, against the resurgent Lucic-Baroni, Rogers fought hard, taking more than an hour to win the first set, 9-7 in the tiebreaker. 

Then, things took a turn.  An abdominal muscle Rogers had pulled Thursday got significantly worse.  She swiftly wearied.  Lucic-Baroni commenced a rapid quick fire.  As much as the crowd cheered on Rogers, all became bleak, Lucic-Baroni snapping up the last two sets, 6-1, 6-1.  To her credit, Rogers put the loss in perspective.  “We’ve kind of had it all this week,” she said, “which has been fun.”   

It was impressive indeed to see the 35-year-old Lucic-Baroni on the comeback trail.  Said Lucic-Baroni, “I worked long and hard to be in this situation, and I’ve had some good results over the past years and it just wasn’t so consistent.  And now that’s I think the biggest difference.  Now I’m consistently playing well.”

While Lucic-Baroni’s win was a triumph of experience, 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko’s comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 victory over 2011 Volvo Car Open champion Caroline Wozniacki marked the ascendance of youth.  Said Wozniacki afterwards, “If she played like this every day, then I mean she would be No. 1 in the world.”

The other two quarters were also marked by fine play.  Another teen prodigy, Daria Kasatkina, fought through a hard first set before routing tenth-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-4, 6-0.  Then came the continuing journey of Laura Siegemund, who beat her third seeded player of the week when she took out the number eight seed, Anastasija Sevastova, 6-2, 6-4.