Kingsley, Osaka Post Impressive Wins @VolvoCarOpen #VCO2016
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
I’m back in my happy place. Charleston’s WTA event seamlessly switched sponsors this year, down to the road sign on the Interstate telling you where to turn. Rest assured, this tournament is as good as ever.
Serena Williams is absent for the second year in a row and perhaps for the rest of her career, but you wouldn’t know it from the enthusiastic fans at qualifying today. Any other tournament that lost a legend like Williams would suffer, but the Volvo Car Open drives on.
Charleston has a way of showcasing emerging talent, from Jana Cepelova’s run to the final two years ago and Belinda Bencic introducing herself to the world with a run in Chucktown as well.
But what a difference a year does make for some. Last year, Genie Bouchard was the top seed. Now, she’s an also-playing. Fear not. She’s still a media darling and there are plenty of cute gigs planned for her this week. She’ll meet Shuai Zhang in the first round. Another early Genie disappearing act? The draw was relatively kind to her, but Time will Tell.
Today’s 16 qualifying matches began at 11:00 a.m. and concluded at 8:10 p.m. The 2+ hours of rain delays weren’t the cause of the late finish. It was the close three-set matches that were to blame–10 of them! Raveena Kingsley upset the #4 qualifying seed Katerina Siniakova, while top seeds Elena Vesnina, Naomi Osaka and Samantha Crawford posted impressive wins.
In American action, Crawford and Kingsley provided the only wins today, placing US players at a combined 2-5 in first round qualifying. Melanie Oudin let another one get away after winning the first set. Kingsley meets Sesil Karatantcheva tomorrow on Althea Gibson Court and Crawford follows on Gibson against Cindy Burger in 2nd round qualifying. As for Karatantcheva, she outlasted Andi Hlavackova in three, spoiling a perfectly good post-victory photo of the coolest kit of the day (photo above). Naomi Osaka’s outfit ranked a very high second (photo above).
And about the main draw. Every year, there are players who appear on the scene and I don’t feel like I’ve had a chance to see them play in person as they come into the top 50. Daria Gavrilova and Daria Kasatkina are two players who have my attention this year. I’m basically hear to watch the Darias this year. As for the seeds, the draw looks like another Kerber-Keys final, unless Bencic can trip up the American to deny Keys a second straight final.
 A. Kerber (GER) d Bye
[WC] S. Rogers (USA) vs. L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
M. Brengle (USA) vs. Qualifier
K. Bondarenko (UKR) vs.  M. Doi (JPN)
 J. Jankovic (SRB) vs. C. Garcia (FRA)
B. Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. T. Pereira (BRA)
L. Hradecka (CZE) vs. M. Puig (PUR)
 A. Petkovic (GER) d Bye
 L. Safarova (CZE) d Bye
Qualifier vs. [WC] L. Chirico (USA)
Qualifier vs. A. Konjuh (CRO)
S. Zheng (CHN) vs.  D. Kasatkina (RUS)
 D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs. Z. Diyas (KAZ)
S. Zhang (CHN) vs. E. Bouchard (CAN)
D. Kovinic (MNE) vs. Qualifier
 S. Stephens (USA) d Bye
 S. Errani (ITA) d Bye
Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs. E. Rodina (RUS)
A. Sevastova (LAT) vs. Qualifier
Qualifier vs.  S. Stosur (AUS)
 S. Lisicki (GER) vs. I. Falconi (USA)
K. Nara (JPN) vs. Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
[WC] F. Altick (USA) vs. A. Riske (USA)
 V. Williams (USA) d Bye
 M. Keys (USA) d Bye
L. Siegemund (GER) vs. Qualifier
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs. S. Peng (CHN)
T. Maria (GER) vs.  K. Mladenovic (FRA)
 I. Begu (ROU) vs. A. Dulgheru (ROU)
L. Domínguez Lino (ESP) vs. C. Mchale (USA)
P. Cetkovska (CZE) vs. Qualifier
 B. Bencic (SUI) d Bye