Favorites Kasatkina, Keys Fly Through Third Round; Garcia Shocked

After working her way through a difficult three-set match to start her 2018 Volvo Car Open campaign, Daria Kasatkina found the form that brought her a maiden WTA title here a year ago.

Playing her all-court best and letting her serve and forehand soar, the No. 3 seed from Russia took just over an hour to trot past Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday afternoon inside Volvo Car Stadium.

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She was one of four top 8 seeds to win on what was an all-play, third-round Thursday in Charleston.

It was a similar scenario for American Madison Keys, the 2015 finalist here who struggled in her opener on Wednesday night. She had a decent challenge against Camila Giorgi, but ended her 6-4, 6-3 triumph with an ace.

She’s back into the quarterfinals here for the first time in three years.

While the day was kind to Kasatkina and Keys, a cool evening ended up being a frustrating end for top seed Caroline Garcia. After winning the first set, she’d see her form fall, eventually undone by French compatriot Alize Cornet, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in front of a boisterous night session crowd on Stadium Court.

How did other top seeds do? No. 8 Anastasija Sevastova defeated Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 6-4, while No. 5 Julia Goerges won the first set tiebreak and then gained momentum in a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Naomi Osaka.

It was an impressive win for Goerges, the world No. 15, who needed a third-set tiebreak to win her first match over unheralded Kristie Ahn. Osaka was one of the most in-form players on tour this spring, having won in Indian Wells.

While Cornet’s upset over Garcia is a big one, the Cinderella runs of No. 101-ranked Bernarda Pera and the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova continued with respective wins. Pera held off Sara Errani 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in front of a spirited Althea Gibson Club Court contingent, while Pliskova also won on that court in three sets, beating Elena Vesnina 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

Kiki Bertens, meanwhile, stopped the Cinderella run of Fanny Stollar, the world No. 219 who had qualified and made the third round. Bertens packed too much punch for the Hungarian teen, winning 6-2, 6-4 to book her place in the Charleston quarterfinals for the first time in her career.

Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez had earned their place in the doubles semifinals after Errani pulled out of their match with an injury sustained in her singles. Meanwhile, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and her new partner Andrea Sestini Hlavackova fell in two tight sets in the late night match, losing to Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik

Sister, sister
Kristyna Pliskova said that she had heard from sister Karolina – former world No. 1 and 2016 US Open finalist – after her triumph over Petra Kvitova on Wednesday. “I’m sure she’s happy for me today, too,” she said with a smile after her Vesnina win.

Sixth time’s a charm
In just her sixth tour-level WTA event, Bernarda Pera has made the quarterfinals. The 23-year-old American with Croatian roots was ranked outside the top 300 just 15 months ago.

Voice in her ear
Madison Keys explained how coach Lindsay Davenport helped her on court Thursday: “The biggest thing is to make sure you’re going for your shots,” she told reporters. “I feel like I got a little bit passive in the first set… [Lindsay] was mostly talking about service games, saying, ‘Go for your serve, pick a spot… really go for it.’ I think I won like eight of nine points after that. It was good to settle my nerves and have something to focus on.”