First @USOpen Win in 6 Years for @Riske4Rewards; DiLorenzo, @JuliaGoerges Advance to Second Round Clash
Steve Fogleman in Queens
Pittsburgh’s Alison Riske has seen a lot over the course of her eleven year pro career: marriage, a WTA title, Wimbledon quarterfinals, competition on six continents, Fed Cup glory. But wins at her home grand slam haven’t come easy. Today, for just the first time since 2013, Riske prevailed in a three set comeback win over Garbine Muguruza of Spain by a final of 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 in two hours and three minutes.
Muguruza looked comfortable in the first set and you sensed it would be another first round letdown for the American. Riske battled back with a sizzling net game, winning 83% of net points in the match. Muguruza hit only 24 winners in the match. Riske, who is through to the second round for the second time in her career, faces Latvian Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.
American Francesca DiLorenzo won her second straight first round US Open match, this year upending Veronika Kudermetova, 7-6, 6-2. She gets Julia Goerges for her trouble: The German had a nasty three set battle against Natalia Vikhlyantseva which was decided by a final tiebreak.
Other winners included Belinda Bencic, Petra Kvitova and Andrea Petkovic in early women’s action on Tuesday.
Steve Fogleman in Washington
Qualifying has a familiar refrain in tournaments the size of Citi Open in Washington. Qualifying rounds on day one are full of matches, but strangely, it’s also a relaxing day for the press because interviews are sparse and post-match press conferences are almost unheard of. Previous qualifying crowded matches historically followed University of Virginia men or other local institutions like the Junior Tennis Champions Center, but not today. The buzz around Coco Gauff today was almost unprecedented in my coverage as a blogger over nine years, what with a full-blown post-match presser and Big Camera everywhere beaming her throughout the D.C. universe and all over the world.
Attendance at her Stadium affair today against Maegan Manasse was massive, easily the biggest crowd to ever witness a first round WTA qualifying match at Citi Open, and I’ve been every year, including the one in College Park, Maryland while the men were playing the last Legg Mason Tennis Classic here in 2011. The only crowd as big as the one at Gauff’s first match since Wimbledon that was arguably as large was the crowd that cheered on Sloane Stephens in the 2015 Women’s Final. It wasn’t just the numbers, it was the post-match cacophonous scrum of juvenalia acquiring autographs and snapping selfies that was straight out of the US Open–or SW 19. It was Wimbledon on the Potomac today.
It was the reverse of every Sunday finals at the event since the WTA Citi Open in College Park and the Legg Mason Tennis Classic were conjoined by Donald Dell in 2012. It was Bizarro World to show my age. And it was long overdue. Here’s to a repeat tomorrow.
I woke up this morning knowing that everyone else would write about Gauff and I was determined to reflect on everything else going on at the Citi Open, and I tried. Francesca DiLorenzo and Victoria Duval played a very close match with DiLo prevailing 6-4, 6-3. Fanny Stollar and Xioadi You fought a brutal three-setter and the heat clearly took a toll on both of them but the look in the eyes of the eyes of the diminutive You said everything. You see those qualifying eyes when a competitor loses and knows they could’ve won if they hadn’t run out of gas first. It’s a marathon for players, tourney staff, fans and bloggers alike and that’s all we need to remember after this fabulous first day of a nine day hike in Rock Creek Park. And the name Coco Gauff.
Top Seeds Advance at Boar’s Head Women’s Open
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Charlottesville is free tennis. So I couldn’t say “free tennis!” today when all four of the opening matches of the day went the distance to three sets. Caty McNally messed with Francesca DiLorenzo’s mind today. The French and US Open junior doubles champion showed major league poise after a strong first set and getting bageled in the second. In a 15 minute game to open the third ser, Di Lorenzo held serve and I was certain that she would win the match. That’s why I don’t bet on tennis. McNally held serve and waited for DiLorenzo to make the errors. McNally is on to the next round to face Sesil Karatantcheva.
Louisa Chirico posted a serious comeback win today: Down 2-5 and a set, she forced a second set tiebreak before cruising through, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 over wild card Natasha Subhash, who hadn’t played a match on clay in nearly seven months. Next up for Chirico is a date with 2018 finalist Anhelina Kalinina, a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Erin Routliffe.
Taylor Townsend was the late wild card and top seed and she delivered, besting Sanaz Marand 7-5, 6-1. Townsend and Caroline Dolehide will face off in a second round show of American firepower tomorrow.
Lucie Hradecka, with her protected ranking, didn’t look like much on paper coming into this event. After today’s 6-0, 6-1 drubbing of Australia’s Kim Birrell, she looks like a favorite to win this whole thing. But like I said, I don’t bet on tennis, so don’t blame me.
Qualifying Sunday Underway With 8 Main Draw Spots on Line at Volvo Car Open
Steve Fogleman in Charleston
The carnival rides from the South Carolina State Fair were in full motion as I pulled up to the Volvo Car Open for opening round qualifying yesterday on Daniel Island, South Carolina. It’s a fitting metaphor for this place, which gets far less attention than the “Tennis Garden”. The grounds, like the clay courts themselves, are expertly manicured. At the East Coast’s last women-only tour level tennis event, there’s a carnival atmosphere, an almost Disney-like feeling here with an overwhelming amount of choices for a fan.
Madison Keys, Jelena Ostapenko, Shelby Rogers and Belinda Bencic hosted hundreds of fans sitting in on their practices on Stadium court, while thousands packed Althea Gibson court and outer courts to watch sixteen qualifying matches.
If you were an American and your last name began with a D, you won yesterday. Lauren Davis started the D run with a 7-6(2), 6-0 breezer over Lyudmyla Kichenok on Gibson. And just like that, she’s already qualified this morning in a walkover of Varvara Flink.
Francesca DiLorenzo, a 2019 Charleston qualifier, prevailed against Volvo Car Open pre-qualifier Jessica Ho, 6-3, 6-3. After the match, DiLo told me “I love the clay. I’ve been practicing on it for a couple of weeks now and getting used to it again, but I really like it.” On her opponent, Jessica Ho, she said “I thinks she played really well today. She gets a lot of balls back and I knew it was going to be a grind of a match. She’s such a tough player and she fights for every ball. I just tried to stay patient, look for opportunities and go for it when I had the chance.”
For DiLorenzo, a chance to be in Charleston is not one to miss.
“I really like the environment. I just like Charleston in general. Last year, I qualied here so that’s cool for me. I enjoy the clay and I enjoy the city so that always helps.”
Caroline Dolehide advanced to a qualifying final with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Lidziya Marozava and faces Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine for a spot in the main draw.
Kayla Day needed three sets to upset Bibiane Schoofs, 7-5, 6-7(1), 6-3 to set up an All-American matchup today with DiLorenzo. “I got a wild card in to the main draw (last year) and I remember I lost in three sets on this court, so it feels really good to win today,” Day told me. “Every single match I’ve played here has gone three sets so I’m always prepared for a fight here.” She opined that “for first round of qualies, the support was amazing. Not many WTA tournaments you go to have this kind of atmosphere in the first round of qualies. This felt like a final. It was great.”
And though, with not a D in her name, Nicole Melichar survived Silvia Soler-Espinosa in three, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 to take on top qualifying seed Kateryna Kozlova for a main draw berth.
It should be a short day with seven matches lined up and a threat of showers in the later afternoon before a major climate change moves through. The temperature is predicted to drop 30 degrees in the next 24 hours, so expect a slow-moving ball on Monday when main draw play begins.
Former NCAA Doubles Champion Francesca DiLorenzo now has another record, and it’s a unique place in US Open history. She’s the only player who’s ever had a kiss planted on them by a fan. At least the only one I ever witnessed. I did the math and I’ve been to 16 US Opens since 2001, and I have never seen or heard of a random fan stealing a kiss from a competitor. If you’ve been here, you know that security is pretty tight. If you don’t believe me, try getting to the lower level of Arthur Ashe with an upper level ticket. But that’s exactly what happened to DiLorenzo after her first round win on Tuesday in New York. A much older guy asked for a photo and gave her a peck on the cheek before DiLorenzo knew what was happening.
“That was very weird for me,” she told me today after a second round match. “I took a picture with the guy and then he then he literally came over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I mean, maybe if it was somebody younger, like more my type. Maybe he’s Italian, but I don’t know. Pretty strange. Definitely one of those strange encounters. He was a little bit older. I didn’t know what to do. I was very shocked. I just took the picture and left. Yeah, too bad he wasn’t younger or anything.”
The bandit is still at large. If you have any information on this man, please contact his grown children.
—Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Americans D. Young, DiLorenzo Headed For @USOpen Qualifying Finals
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Nothing ever comes seems to come easy to Donald Young and today was no exception. Today at US Open qualifying in New York, he sleep-walked through the first set against Simone Bolelli and was bageled in front of a roaring American crowd. Yet, as the Donald does, he persevered in three to fight another day, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I don’t know I did it,” he told me after the match and in between being hounded for autographs and selfies. “I kept fighting and got the W somehow. I don’t know, really. I’m happy to just be moving on.”
He appreciated the fan support from Court 11, the same court where American Ernesto Escobedo won a tough three-setter yesterday afternoon.
“It’s great,” he said. “US Open, the crowd is always good here. It’s always special to be here and play well.”
Young needs to beat Canadian Peter Polansky on Friday to advance.
Another American into the final round of qualifying before lunch was over was Francesca DiLorenzo in a straight sets win against Germany’s Antonia Lottner, 6-4, 7-5. Lottner has qualified before here in New York, but DiLorenzo shut the door on her today in a close one.
“I think there was a little bit of nerves for both sides in the beginning,” DiLorenzo said. “Neither of us were really able to break each other. But once I got into the match a bit and got more comfortable, I started getting in the zone and being a little more aggressive. So it was good.”
The US Open experience is special to her, too.
“I mean, it’s the US Open and it’s New York,” she said. “It’s incredible. I always love playing here. You get all the US fans supporting you on big courts. It’s just amazing. There’s no other place like it.”
DiLo plays former world top 10 Mona Barthel tomorrow for a main draw berth.
The first matches on Armstrong didn’t go particularly well for American players today. Sebastian Korda made history by winning the first game on the newly-constructed stadium, but dropped both sets making Facundo Bagnis the first winner there ever. He did it by a count of 6-4, 6-4. American Kristie Ahn was knocked off the court and out of qualifying in 45 minutes by Ons Jabeur by a score of 6-2, 6-2. Evan King took the first set from Stefano Travaglia on Armstrong this afternoon before Travaglia ‘prevaglied’ by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. That leaves Ernesto Escobedo as the last American of the day to say he won on New Armstrong the first day.
Tomorrow is Media Day at the US Open and this year, for the first time ever, it’s open to the public in Armstrong. Some in the pressroom are not excited about it, some because it gives them less exclusive access, and others because they think it will turn into a cheapened “Super Bowl” media experience. For the fans, it sounds like a welcome improvement and I look forward to it becoming a tradition at the US Open.