The opening round of WTA 500 Mubadala DC City Open in Washington is already finished. 16 players including all the 8 seeds have stayed in the field after first two interesting days of competition in the first tournament of the US summer hard-courts swing.
Good start for the seeds
Same as in the other WTA 500 tournaments this year, the first four seeds received byes in the opening round, but all the other four started their Washington's campaign with straight sets victories. Liudmila Samsonova has opened this year's Mubadala DC City Open while playing in the first Monday's match on Centre Court as a last year's reigning champion. The Russian was paired up with Danielle Collins, who received a wild card into main draw. The match was expected to be an intriguing battle, but the American has seemingly not found her best level on the particular day and allowed the 8th seed to move into second round in a comfortable way. Samsonova was playing a really solid tennis throughout whole the match, which coupled with an erratic play from Collins, gave her a strong 6-3 6-1 victory in less than 80 minutes of play. The reigning champ did not lose any single service game, while her opponent was struggling especially with the second serve (just 22% points won) and commited way too many unforced errors. Sorana Cirstea is another stop for Samsonova on the road to the title defence.
Belinda Bencic has also started her tournament on Monday morning, playing against Anastasia Potapova. The match was quite an even battle from the start, with a few breaks traded between both, but has ended up prematurely due to an injury suffered by the Russian after just 11 games played.
Daria Kasatkina has defeated Elise Mertens by 6-3 7-5 in the first evening session of the tournament. The world's number 11 could make the deal done even earlier, but wasted 4 matchpoints while serving for the match in 9th game of second set. Despite this, the Russian regrouped herself and regained the advantage by breaking Mertens again 3 games later and denied the tiebreak, securing the straight sets win.
Madison Keys has set up one of the most interesting first round matches against Qinwen Zheng. Both the players have celebrated winning the WTA titles in recent weeks. The American won the WTA 500 grass event in Eastbourne, while Zheng earned her maiden WTA title in the Palermo Ladies Open two weeks ago. The Chinese have started their clash played on Tuesday's evening from a front foot, moving into a break lead after 5 games. Keys leveled the scoreline just a game later and grabbed the first set later on. The American defended 3 breakpoints in an important 9th game within the score 4-4 and broke her younger opponent again in 12th one to take the set by 7-5. The second set was less competitive battle, as Keys dominated Zheng from the start and moved into second round with a score 7-5 6-1.
Wonderful comeback for Brady
Jennifer Brady is the big name, who dissapeared from the radar of the fans of WTA competition for long 2 years. The American, who advanced into the final of Australian Open in 2021 and reached her highest 14th rank at the same year, has not played at the competitive level for almost exactly two years, since the tournament in Cincinnati, played in August 2021. Brady was suffering with a major foot injury, which prevented and delayed her comeback into competition for a long time. The American has started her comeback from playing in the ITF event in Gnarby two weeks ago, where she managed to win one match. Playing with a protected ranking in Washington DC, Brady got paired up against Anhelina Kalinina in first round. Brady showed up sensationally well after such a long break, as she defeated the runner-up of this year's WTA 1000 in Rome with a crushing score 6-2 6-1. The Ukrainian has played really under the par this day, as she got completely outplayed by Brady, who showed a great sign, starting her comeback from such a strong performance. The next round will be really challenging for the American though, as she plays against her fellowcountry, Madison Keys.
Kostyuk defends 3 matchpoints, Davis saves 7 setpoints to win
Apart from some one-sided matches described above, the first round was highlighted by two three-setters, which had quite an unusual course of events with great comebacks of two players. Marta Kostyuk has set up an intriguing match against Bianca Andreescu, which was expected to be one of the best pairings from the bottom half. The match has not disappointed with its dramaturgy, especially in the decisive moments. Both players traded two sets between them, going into whole distance. Kostyuk moved into a break lead twice in third set, but Andreescu came back to level the score into 4-4. The last games delivered a lot of pressure for the serving players. Andreescu defended 3 breakpoints in 9th game to hold for the 5-4 lead. Kostyuk was serving under big pressure later on, as she faced a breakpoint which was a matchpoint at the same time. The Ukrainian saved it, but it was not the end of a scary, as Andreescu created two another match closing chances in 12th game. Kostyuk held it again from being 15-40 down and forced a tiebreak. The decisive game was no less intense, as the single rallies at the end decided it for the favour of Kostyuk, who won the whole thing by 2-6 6-3 7-6(5) despite facing 3 matchpoints on the road.
Lauren Davis created another great story during the her all-American clash against Sloane Stephens on Monday. The 2017 US Open champion was on a good path to clinch the opening set, while leading 5-3. The first couple of serious chances appeared in 9th game, when Stephens created 5 setpoints during the serve of Davis, who cleared all the danger and stayed alive in the set after 6 deuces long game. Stephens had still a chance to serve for the set and had another setpoint during her own game, but wasted it as Davis came back level. The rest of a set was an intense battle with chances for both players, same in the following games as in a super long and tight tiebreak, which ended up with a favour of Davis, who won the set after 90 minutes of play, facing 7 setpoints on the road. Stephens regrouped well after this disappointment, as she moved the match into whole distance by winning second set, but Davis was the dominant force in a decider and moved into second round with a score 7-6(8) 3-6 6-1.