Day 2: Bencic survives challenge, former champ Stephens upset

Day 2: Bencic survives challenge, former champ Stephens upset

Two points away from defeat, Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic found her form just when she needed it on Tuesday at the Credit One Charleston Open.

China’s Wang Xiyu, just 21, was looking for her second career Top 50 win, and not only served for the match but led by 5-2 in the second set tiebreak, only to see the Swiss No. 10 seed rally and emerge victorious 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 in two hours, 25 minutes.

Bencic, who had her pro breakthrough as a teenager, meets an up-and-coming teen next in Czech star Linda Fruhvirtova. Fruhvirtova won the first-ever match on Credit One Stadium Monday afternoon.

“Linda is a great player,” Bencic said of the 16-year-old, the two players sharing an agent. “I knew her well and I knew she was going to make it on the WTA.”

There was no such turn in form for 2016 winner here Sloane Stephens, who was out-dueled by 19-year-old Chinese player Zheng Qinwen who scored the biggest win of her career.

Zheng, ranked No. 72, won 6-3 4-6 6-0. She weathered Stephens’ powerful shot making, as well as a mid-match rain delay that sent the players off of the court for some 20 minutes.

Zheng is making her Charleston debut, and was ranked outside the Top 300 as recently as 2020. She’ll meet Ekaterina Alexandrova next.

Charleston local and reigning NCAA champion Emma Navarro also won on Tuesday afternoon, rallying from a set down against American compatriot Madison Brengle before the Delaware native was forced to retire.

Navarro led 6-7(4) 6-2 3-0. She will take on No. 4 seed Ons Jabeur in the second round, the Tunisian ranked No. 10 in the world having gotten a first round bye.

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Lauren Davis (USA) in action on Tuesday. (Photo: Credit One Charleston Open)

Tennis Tuesday: Davis, Vandeweghe to meet in round two

You know it’s clay season when “junk” ball tennis enters the lexicon.

So was the case on for American Lauren Davis, the 28-year-old Ohio native slicing and dicing her way to a 6-2 6-3 win over Mariam Bolkvadze on the Althea Gibson Club Court in the match preceding the Navarro-Brengle tussle.

Davis, playing here for the seventh time, was a quarterfinalist in 2015.

“I took a few days off to train on clay,” Davis said on Tennis Channel after her win. “Today I was trying to mix it up and throw in a lot of junk… just stay in the point.”

“Slice, drop shots, changing the pace… I’ve brought more variety into my game. When you change it up, I’ve found that girls aren’t as used to that.”

Davis will play fellow American Coco Vandeweghe, a lucky loser, in the second round. Vandeweghe, the former world No. 9, continues her comeback from an injury. She beat Anastasia Gasanova 6-3 4-6 6-3 on Court 4.

Twenty-year-old Hailey Baptiste, another American, also won in the first match of the day on Court 4. She beat Elena Gabriela Ruse of Romania 6-3 6-0.

Alison Riske won an all-American battle over Caty McNally on Club Court, advancing 7-5 6-3 and earning a meeting with top see Aryna Sabalenka in round two.

Magda Linette of Poland survived two hours and 28 minutes on court, beating American Katie Volynets 4-6 6-3 7-6(4). Yulia Putintseva held off challenger Robin Anderson, as well, winning 6-2 7-6(9).

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Belinda Bencic HAILEY BAPTISTE Lauren Davis MAGDA LINETTE Ons Jabeur Sloane Stephens