Keys Survives Spanish Scare as Kvitova, Konta are Upset
By: Nick McCarvel
The crowd was loud – really loud – Wednesday night inside Stadium Court at the Volvo Car Open. And American Madison Keys heard every yell.
A finalist here in 2015, Keys, who turned 23 in February, used the energy from the evening crowd in Charleston to rally past a stubborn Lara Arruabarrena of Spain, winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to book her place in the round of 16.
With the help of the crowd Keys avoided the trend of the day: Upsets.
Earlier, No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 6 Johanna Konta both lost, neither able to conjure up her best respective tennis in defeats to dangerous foes.
Kvitova lost her first match to a Czech countrywoman in some 25 outings, defeated by Kristyna Pliskova 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. It’s Pliskova’s third career win over a top 10 opponent.
Konta, who played directly after Kvitova, couldn’t find her range on the green clay of Daniel Island, either. She lost the first set to qualifier Fanny Stollar by the same margin as the second, eventually going down 6-3, 6-3.
Stollar made an equally surprising run here a year ago. So far, four out of her five career wins at the main draw level of the WTA have come in Charleston.
Like Keys, though, No. 5 seed Julia Goerges did her best to avoid the upset trend, weathering a barrage of unforced errors and a determined U.S. foe in Kristie Ahn. The German won in over two hours in the first match of the day, capturing the back-and-forth battle 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1).
Not all expected winners had to work as hard: Seeds Alize Cornet, Elena Vesnina, Kiki Bertens and Naomi Osaka all won in straight sets, Osaka holding off a spirited challenge from 2017 Charleston semifinalist Laura Siegemund on Althea Gibson Club Court.
Camila Giorgi, the big-hitting diminutive Italian knocked out No. 11 seed Daria Gavrilova in three sets, while little-known American Bernarda Pera beat Dayana Yastremska over three sets.
Earlier in the week Pera, who has had a surprise 2018, visited Joint Base Charleston to meet some of the brave servicemen and women of the U.S.
Other winners: Sara Errani and Irina-Camelia Begu in singles, while Kateryna Bondarenko and Aleksandra Krunic won on the doubles court.
Goerges Goes On…
Julia Goerges led 4-0 on American Kristie Ahn before it appeared the wheels came off her game. But the 29-year-old German won in a third-set tiebreak, indicative of the fighting spirit she’s shown to help her break into the top 10 this year – for the first time. What’s clicking? “I’ve put a lot of work in the last two or three years,” she said on court Wednesday. “I’ve changed as a human a little bit. I’m enjoying what I’m doing.”
Defending champion Daria Kasatkina had the day off, but she still made a special appearance at the SunTrust booth to sign some autographs for young fans. Kasatkina was made to work on Tuesday night in a three-set win over Christina McHale.
The legend of Naomi Osaka is growing and growing in Charleston and beyond. Wednesday Althea Gibson Club Court was overflowing with Osaka fans as she held off Laura Siegemund. She said she’s trying not to pay attention to the pressure mounted on her shoulders after winning Indian Wells.
Elena Vesnina is a two-time singles finalist and doubles winner here, and Wednesday she booked her place in the round of 16. Asked her favorite thing about Charleston, she didn’t bat an eye. “King Street.”