Tennis Tuesday: Rogers, Keys, Azarenka earn opening-round wins at Charleston Open
It was a Tennis Tuesday full of intrigue and closely-fought matches at the Credit One Charleston Open. Here’s what you’ve missed:
- 2019 winner Madison Keys, 2021 semifinalist Paula Badosa and home hope Shelby Rogers all scored wins to advance in front of a robust crowd on Credit One Stadium court Tuesday afternoon
- Victoria Azarenka, playing here for the first time in 13 years, denied the strong play of 2016 winner Sloane Stephens in a thrilling evening match. Azarenka, a two-time Slam champ, is into the sweet 16, winning 3-6 6-3 6-2 in just over two hours
- Also registering a win was 2020 Australian Open champ Sofia Kenin in a match held over from a rainy Monday night. She beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Keys withstood two tough sets against another Charleston local in Emma Navarro, 6-4 6-3, furthering her record in the Lowcountry to 18-8.
Rogers, meanwhile, registered her first win at her home event since 2019 with an upset over No. 13 seed Danielle Collins in three sets, 6-7(2) 6-4 6-1.
Earlier, Badosa, who was ranked No. 2 in the world here a year ago, held off Mayar Sherif of Egypt, the Spaniard winning 6-3 6-1.
It was a strong day for the American contingent with Rogers, Keys and Kenin being joined by Caroline Dolehide, Caty McNally, Hailey Baptiste and Bernarda Pera each winning.
Rogers and McNally meet on Wednesday, while Keys faces off against Baptiste.
— Credit One Charleston Open (@CharlestonOpen) April 4, 2023
More scores: Kalinskaya wins three-hour tussle
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, the 2021 US Open runner-up, was victorious on the Althea Gibson Club Court, beating Evgeniya Rodina 6-3 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with Badosa.
Elsewhere, Diana Shnaider, who plays collegiate tennis at North Carolina State, beat Alycia Parks 6-4, 6-3, while Varvara Gracheva took down qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-6(3) 6-2.
In the longest match so far of the tournament, Anna Kalinskaya withstood an Alize Cornet roller coaster on Club Court, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-2 in three hours and 12 minutes in what was a second-round encounter.
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Navarro, Rogers reflect on playing at home
It was an emotional afternoon for Shelby, who was a quarterfinalist here in 2017 but has struggled since. She said she soaked in the home support, with plenty of familiar faces in the crowd.
“The crowd sounds a little bit different here than anywhere else for me,” Rogers reflected. “It’s just really special to hear how many people come out to support me and just [support] good tennis. … It makes my heart so happy.”
“It’s really humbling, and makes me just want to keep going, work harder and try to do the best I can.”
Navarro, now 21, is ranked a career-high No. 118 in the world, and recently picked up wins in Monterrey, Indian Wells and Miami.
Keys, however, is one of the toughest asks on the WTA, however, and the 2019 winner her jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Navarro could get settled.
“It’s always special to play at home,” Navarro said after. “I feel honored to be playing for Charleston. I felt like I had some chances today that I didn’t execute. I felt like I was knocked back a little bit [at the start]. Playing at home I want to do well, obviously.”
Navarro won one ITF event to start the year and made a final of another, helping her to reach that aforementioned career-high ranking.
“I’m on a great path right now,” she said. “I’m happy where I’m going with my tennis. I have some more experiences to get in. I’m looking forward to playing more matches on these stages, but I’m happy with where I’m at.”
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