Quarterfinal Friday: Three former champs lead standout Elite Eight

Quarterfinal Friday: Three former champs lead standout Elite Eight

For the first time since 2006, the top four seeds of the Credit One Charleston Open have made their way into the quarterfinals.

No. 4 seed Belinda Bencic leads the charge, the defending champ on a run of eight matches in a row in Lowcountry after denying local hope Shelby Rogers on Thursday.

But Bencic – like many of the players who come back here each year – feels an aura on Daniel Island, too.

Updated schedule & draws

“I feel more attached to this tournament than others,” the Swiss star said, having made a breakout run here in 2014 at age 17. “The memories… they’re always here.”

Bencic is joined by a top three trio in Jessica Pegula, Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.

Like Bencic, Kasatkina is a former champ here (2017), as is Madison Keys, in 2019.

All four quarterfinals carry plenty of intrigue, including for Pegula, who meets former world No. 2 Paula Badosa, who’s into the quarters here for a second straight year – and finding her best tennis again.

“She’s experienced – I don’t think she’ll feel nervous,” Pegula said of her Spanish foe. “It’s going to be tough. I know she likes to make it really physical.”

The winner of that match will face either Bencic or her opponent, Ekaterina Alexandrova, who are meeting for a seventh time, their head-to-head standing 3-3. Alexandrova won just last week in Miami, however.

“I have to try to disrupt her rhythm,” Bencic said of the big hitter. “I want to make it as tough as possible; and I think the clay is going to change a lot of things.”

In the bottom half of the draw, Keys and Kasatkina meet in a battle of former champs for the right to meet either Jabeur or Anna Kalinskaya, the lone unseeded player into the quarters.

Jabeur, who had a minor knee injury in February, believes she is finding her next level again, too.

“Tennis is about digging deep,” she said. “I’m doing the necessary work and just being patient. My two match wins are just rewards of where I should be, and the key is for me to be confident, patient and the results will come for sure.”