The opening round of the WTA 500 Cymbiotika San Diego Open is completed after two days of main draw competition. First round of the tournament in California brought some really interesting action, as 7 out of 14 matches got settled in three sets. Some of them were really exciting battles with many great action still to follow since Wednesday, as the top 4 seeds start they campaign after receiving byes in first round.
Ostapenko survives the rollercoaster
Jelena Ostapenko has defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova in the most thrilling match of the opening round in San Diego. The Latvian crossed the finish line after 2:50 hours of play, winning by 7-6(3) 6-7(6) 7-5. Ostapenko was on a very good position to close this match much earlier. The recent US Open quarterfinalist won a tight opening set, ended up in tiebreak. Ostapenko had 4 setpoints during Alexandrova's serve in 12th game, but the Russian made a hold and forced a tiebreak. Ostapenko won it by 7-3 and raised up the level in next set, quickly running away with a score. The world's number 16 was leading by 4-0 and had two chances to move up into 5-0 lead with triple break cushion. Alexandrova held this game to practically stay alive in this match and made up half of the gap in the following game. Ostapenko had this match still under control, leading by 5-3, but wasted her chances to close the contention. The first one appeared in 9th game, when Alexandrova needed to defend matchpoint within own serve. The Russian saved this danger well and broke her opponent after a while. Ostapenko was about to serve for the match in the following game, but lost her service game to love. The set was settled in another tiebreak. Despite a tight score (8-6), Alexandrova was on a front foot for the whole time there, having 4 setpoints throught the 13th game. After more than one hour of play in this set, the Russian came out of nowhere to force a decider.
Third set was not a truly rollercoaster full of major momentum switches. Ostapenko started with an early break, leading by 2-0, but dropped the ball massively since then, losing 3 service games in a row. Alexandrova was leading by 5-2 with a double break and served for the match. Once the world's number 19 was able to perform the comeback in second set, this time the roles completely reversed, as Alexandrova wasted two chances to serve for the match. Ostapenko found her level in the latest moment to score an amazing series of 5 games won in a row in such a massive moment, as she turned over the decisive set, winning 7-5 from being 2-5 down.
Sasnovich eliminates Bencic
Aliaksandra Sasnovich performed the most notable upset of the first round, as she defeated the 5th seed Belinda Bencic. The Belarusian, who earned her place in main draw as a qualifier, was rated with an odd 3.58 ahead of the match against the Swiss. Bencic started well, gaining an early break in first game and leading by 3-1 later on. Sasnovich has surprisingly turned this set over by winning 5 games in a row since then. Bencic regrouped well in second set, quickly running away with a score and delivered the win by 6-3, which moved the settlement into whole distance. Sasnovich started third set from the front foot, breaking early for the score 2-0. Bencic fought back to erase the break gap, but the world's number 102 has dominated the decisive moments of this match and clinched the surprising victory by winning 4 games in a row till the end. 6-3 3-6 6-2 is the final score.
Haddad Maia endures Fernandez
Beatriz Haddad Maia became a specialist of playing long and intense three-sets battles over this year and the simillar scenario was expected after the draw, when she got paired up against Leylah Fernandez in one of the most exciting match-ups of the opening round in San Diego. The Brazilian was just a slight favorite related to odds, but started this match well, winning the opening set by 6-3. The 7th seed had a chance to close this match in straight sets, as she produced a matchpoint in 10th game, but the Canadian survived the scary and saved the crucial breakpoint. Fernandez followed the blow by breaking her opponent in the following game and forced a deciding set. Haddad Maia was a dominant force in 3rd set though, as she put an intense pressure on Fernandez, creating breakpoints in 3 out of 4 service games of her opponent. After 2:37 hours of play, the world's number 20 booked the place in second round, winning by 6-3 5-7 6-2. Marta Kostyuk is her next opponent after defeating Magda Linette in straight sets.
Good start for the Americans
It was a good opening round for the home representatives, as five US players moved past into second round. Sofia Kenin has performed some kind of upset on the 6th seed Veronika Kudermetova. The 2020 Australian Open champion has defeated the Russian in straight sets by 6-4 6-4. It's another surprise caused by Kenin during this season, as she was able to defeat Aryna Sabalenka on clay and Cori Gauff at Wimbledon earlier in 2023. The win over Kudermetova is not such a big upset, as the odds were giving decent chances for Kenin, rating her by 2.23 before the match. Kudermetova loses her 3rd match in a row and 2nd consecutive against the American, as she fall out from the US Open as early as in the first round, losing to Bernarda Pera.
Sloane Stephens had set up one of the most intriguing match-ups on paper, playing against Elise Mertens in Tuesday's night session on Barnes Stadium. The 2017 US Open champion showed up really well, scoring a convincing 6-1 6-3 win over the Belgian and plays against 2nd seed Caroline Garcia next.
Danielle Collins was the biggest favorite out of all the players competing in first round, as she got rated by an odd 1.11 ahead of the match against the qualifier - Louisa Chirico, ranked 213th in the WTA list. The all-American clash which started the action on the centre court on Tuesday was really competitive in first set, while Chirico was challenging Collins with great composure in the rallies and ability to score some forehand winners. Chirico had a pretty good chance to move up front in 11th game, while having 2 breakpoints within a score 5-5, but "Danimal" gave no chance to her opponent during those points. It was a breakthrough for Collins who clicked the gear and raised up the pace, winning 8 consecutive games since than, showing a great performance in second set won to love. Collins sets up a hit clash of second round, playing against Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.
Katie Volynets defeated the wild card receiver - Clervie Ngounoue. The 17 years-old showed up very well, as she won the opening set, but Volynets routined the younger opponent in two following sets to move into second round with a score 2-6 6-4 6-2. Emma Navarro defeated Jasmine Paolini by 7-5 6-0, while Alycia Parks was the only American to lose against overseas player, as she got defeated by Anastasia Potapova. The Russian won by 6-2 5-7 6-4.