Keys, Konta Face Tough Roads in Singles Draw
By: Nick McCarvel
While Johanna Konta was winning the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open Saturday afternoon, her draw for the 2017 Volvo Car Open was being made.
The British top 10 resident is the No. 2 seed for the Volvo Car Open, and will bring in the momentum of six straight match wins, including Saturday’s final over Caroline Wozniacki, who also heads to Charleston this coming week.
2015 finalist Madison Keys is the top seed as she continues her comeback on tour, while Australian Open runner-up Venus Williams is seeded No. 3 and Indian Wells champ Elena Vesnina is No. 4.
Needless to say there is lots of in-form players making their way to Daniel Island and the Family Circle Tennis Center.
Olympic champion Monica Puig and Auckland winner Lauren Davis helped with the draw on Saturday, which placed the top 16 seeds into their spots, with the top eight seeds being handed first-round byes.
Puig, who is ranked 40th, is playing here for the fourth time. She made the third round in 2016, her best result to date.
“I’m so excited to be back here in Charleston,” Puig said at the draw ceremony. “It’s one of my favorite events. I’ve started to get back into form this year. We’re starting to see a lot of the younger players come through. The tennis is very competitive.”
Should the seeds hold, the quarterfinals will be as follows: Keys vs. No. 7 Kiki Bertens; Vesnina vs. Wozniacki; V. Williams vs. Anastasija Sevastova; and Konta vs. Sam Stosur.
Stosur - along with Wozniacki, Venus, Andrea Petkovic and Jelena Jankovic - are all former champions here.
Petkovic and Jankovic, having missed out on a seed like Puig, have first round contests to face. The German play Lara Arruabarrena while JJ meets Ekterina Alexandrova. Puig will face Katerina Siniakova.
Davis, seeded No. 14, plays the aggressive Greek player Maria Sakkari in her opener. They practice together earlier on Saturday.
“I’ve been playing some really good tennis this year,” said Davis. “I’ve been enjoying myself and focusing on the process. … My duty is to make sure I make the most of my gifts.”
Other first-round matches to watch include Noami Osaka and Johanna Larsson, No. 9 Daria Gavrilova against Sara Errani, Louisa Chirico vs. Annika Beck, No. 15 Lucie Safarova vs. Varvara Lepchenko, Daria Kasatkina playing Danka Kovinic and Alison Riske and Kayla Day in an all-American battle.
Day, just 16, was granted a wildcard into the main draw. Fellow Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Hayley Carter were also given wildcards, as well.
Charleston native Shelby Rogers will open against a qualifier in her first match, with the winner set to play top seed Keys. Other must-see players in the draw include comeback player Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a semifinalist at the Australian Open, as well as young American Jennifer Brady.
The winner of Day-Riske will play Konta in the second round, who will be flying high with confidence after her flight to Charleston with the Miami trophy in her bag.
Will she or Keys be a first-time winner? Or can another star - or a former champ here otherwise - walk away with hardware come next Sunday?