Main draw Monday: Three-setters thrill as Sloane Stephens headlines winners
It was a three-set sort of day at the Credit One Charleston Open.
Stadium court was full of them, including 2016 champion Sloane Stephens‘ match, who rallied from a set down to beat fellow American Louisa Chirico 3-6 6-1 6-2.
“First match on clay, you have to find your bearings,” Stephens said after. “This feels like home. I always love coming back.”
Her comeback win sealed a must-see Tuesday evening match: Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, against two-time Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
In the evening session, another match was into the decider when rain decided to dampen the action, leaving American Sofia Kenin and opponent Aliaksandra Sasnovich to finish on Tuesday. 2009 Charleston winner Sabine Lisicki and Caroline Dolehide have moved to Tuesday, too.
Earlier Monday, there were Credit One Stadium wins for 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova and Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov, with Fruhvirtova upsetting No.14 seed Jil Teichmann 6-2 3-6 6-2.
The story of the day belonged to a player who didn’t end up on the winning side as former world No. 3 Elina Svitolina, who gave birth to her first child in October, made her WTA return some 13 months after leaving Tour.
“It was a good atmosphere, it felt special… when I walked on court I almost had goosebumps. It gave me a lot of energy to go through a tough match like this.”
Svitolina and her partner Gael Monfils, also a professional tennis player, welcomed their daughter Skaï in October. Svitolina said she began training in January, slowly building up her on-court time.
“I’m still 28,” the Ukrainian said with a smile, adding that she still holds big dreams. “[Winning a major] is the ultimate goal, but the priority now is to stay healthy and get stronger. Today showed I still need to improve. I’m on a good path.”
Svitolina put up a strong fight against world No. 43 Yulia Putintseva, losing 6-7(3) 6-4 6-2.
Sachia Vickery, a 27-year-old who won through the qualifying, won an all-American battle with Kayla Day, 6-4 6-2 to advance to round two. Vickery claimed one of her first WTA Tour wins here eight years ago, in 2015 as a teenager.
Other Monday winners included French veteran Alizé Cornet, who beat US wild card Fiona Crawley 6-0 6-2, as well as No.15 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, Anna Blinkova and Lesia Tsurenko.
Julia Grabher and Anna Kalinskaya both scored wins over seeds, with Grabher beating No.10 Zhang Shuai and Kalinskaya topping the 11th seed Anhelina Kalinina.