Top Seed Garcia Soars, Mattek-Sands Gets Emotional Comeback Win
By: Nick McCarvel
Caroline Garcia uses the hashtag #FlyWithCaro on social media after her victories on tour, paired with a visual of her soaring with airplane-wing arms on court.
Tuesday she got to employ both following her second round win at the Volvo Car Open, the No. 1 seed at this year’s event untroubled by American Varvara Lepchenko in a 6-2, 6-3 triumph in Volvo Car Stadium.
The win landed her as the first player in the third round.
Defending champion and No. 3 seed Daria Kasatkina joined the Frenchwoman there, battling back from a 3-0 deficit against Christina McHale in the first set, then winning the final six games of the match when she trailed 2-0 in the third. In the end, the 2017 winner survived, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
The two up-and-coming WTA stars are on a collision course for the Volvo Car Open final on Sunday. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Around the grounds was a busy one on Tuesday, with first- and second-round matches as part of the schedule. Stanford alum and little-known American hope Kristie Ahn produced perhaps the upset of the day, bundling out former winner Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in the second match of the day.
Another American – Taylor Townsend – also had an upset to be proud of, the Chicago native earning her first main draw win on the WTA since January with a 6-4, 6-4 effort against Britain’s Heather Watson.
Who else got a ‘W’ next to their names on Tuesday? No. 9 seed Ashleigh Barty, No. 16 Elena Vesnina, No. 13 Irina-Camelia Begu and wildcard Sara Errani, the former French Open finalist who denied Genie Bouchard a spot in the second round with a straight-sets win.
It was a beautiful but rather windy day on Daniel Island, players often battling the wind as much as one another as the sun had few clouds to play against.
Germany’s Tatjana Maria dropped just three games against Lauren Davis of Ohio, then told the crowd about her little girl, Charlotte, watching courtside during her match.
“I think all players should try to have a kid on tour,” she joked after the win.
And there were happy emotions of a different sort for Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Tuesday afternoon. In front of a packed house on Court 3, she and doubles partner Andrea Sestini Hlavackova beat Shuko Aoyama and Yang Zhaoxuan.
While the scoreline appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary, the win was anything but for Mattek-Sands, the defending doubles winner and former world No. 1 in doubles: Last July at Wimbledon she suffered a horrific knee injury, the slip putting her out of the game until just two weeks ago.
Her win Tuesday was the first of her return. She and Sestini Hlavackova embraced mid-court, then the stage was Mattek-Sands’ to soak in the adulation of the crowd that knew how much the win meant to her.
The newly formed team will play veteran Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik for a shot in the semifinals.
Little Moments, Big Meaning
The hard work is paying off for Ahn and Townsend, both who are trying to break into the top 100. For the 25-year-old Ahn it was just her fifth career main draw win on the WTA, while Townsend won here in Charleston for the first time. They both meet seeds in Wednesday’s play.
When Kristyna Pliskova and Katerina Siniakova took to Althea Gibson Clubcourt on Tuesday, it was Czech player vs. Czech player… in matching outfits. But the pair is easy to tell apart: Pliskova is lanky, with straight hair and a lefty tennis game. She won easily, dispatching her younger countrywoman before they hugged at the net.