Austin | Kalinina and Stephens lead the charge into round 2

Anhelina Kalinina, seeded for the first time at a WTA tournament, cruised past 18-year old Sara Bejlek at the ATX Open in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, while 2nd-seeded Sloan Stephens and Danielle Collins, the No 3 seed, also advanced to round 2, but Peyton Stearns, the 7th seed, fell in 3 sets to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

[That game] was, like, 20 minutes... I was, like, OK, I gotta get this game. Then I was more focused on winning the games quicker, and not being out there so long. Sloane Stephens

Kalinina, who is from Ukraine and the World No 35, surprisingly, faced little resistance from the Czech qualifier, ranked 128, and swept past Bejlek, 6-3 6-2, in 67 minutes, never trailing in the match, and winning 14 of her 16 first-service points.

The Ukrainian won 3 of the final 4 games of the first set, and then kept on rolling in the second, racing out to a 5-1 lead.

Stephens also made short work of her opponent, defeating Czech qualifier, Tereza Martincova, 6-4 6-0.

A quarter-finalist here last year, the American advanced in 1 hour and 29 minutes past the former No 40 Martincova, pulling away to win the last 7 games in a row after a tight first set.

The first game of the second proved to be a marathon, though, featuring 8 deuces, which , the 2017 US Open champion eventually won on her 4th break point, and it was only in the last 2 games of the match that Stephens accelerated to the finish line, winning 11 of the last 12 points.

“[That game] was, like, 20 minutes,” said Stephens in her on-court interview. “I was, like, OK, I gotta get this game. Then I was more focused on winning the games quicker, and not being out there so long.”

Stephens, whose performance was characterised by strong play in the important moments as she saved all the 7 break points she faced, will meet Anastasija Sevastova next.

The Latvian is playing the 4th tournament of her come-back from maternity leave, and the two have split their 4 previous matches, including two big US Open quarter-final showdowns.

In their first meeting, Stephens edged Sevastova in a 3rd-set tiebreak en route to her US Open title, while, 12 months later, in 2018, the Latvian got her revenge, knocking out the defending champion in exactly the same round.


2nd-seed Sloane Stephens saw off qualifier Tereza Martincova in straight sets on Tuesday

ATXopen.com

Another seeded American was not as successful, though, as No 7 Peyton Stearns was upset by Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 2-6 6-4 5-7, after a 2 hour 38 minute battle.

Schmiedlova came back from 5-3 down in the final set to pull off the upset win.

Other Americans to win on Tuesday included Katie Volynets, Taylor Townsend and Sachia Vickery, but Colombia’s Emiliana Arango beat Alycia Parks, 6-2 6-3.

Wild-card Volynets, ranked 112, an Austin semi-finalist last year, survived an 86-minute second set to fight her way past Mexico’s Zarazua, ranked 10 spots higher at No 102, 6-4 7-6(6).

In that second set, Zarazua held a set point in the 6-5 game, then pulled back from 5-0 down in the tiebreak to grab a second set point at 6-5, but the Mexican double-faulted, and the American cranked a pass to reach match point at 7-6, which she then converted after a long service return.

In a battle of touch versus touch, Townsend and Mexican wild-card Fernanda Contreras delivered bold serve-and-volley plays, delightful pick-ups and delicate drop-shots, in a contest that the American eventually won, 3-6 6-2 6-3, after 2 hours and 41 minutes.

Townsend held the edge in power, and took control as the match lengthened, the winning percentage behind her first serve rising from 52% in the first set to 67% in the second, and 77% in the third.

In an all-qualifier showdown, Vickery eased past Rebecca Marino, 6-2 6-4, in 74 minutes to clinch her spot in the 2nd-round, the American fending off 8 aces fired by the Canadian, while Vickery was exceptional returning the Marino’s second deliveries, winning 72% of those points.

The World No 134 continues her Austin run after being down match point to another Canadian, Carol Zhao, in the 1st-round of qualifying at the weekend, and takes on Schmiedlova in the next round.

No 6 seed Wang Xiyu from China downed Argentine Nadia Podoroska, 7-5 6-4, while Latvian Darja Semenistaja outlasted Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, a wild-card from Andorra, 6-7(2) 6-2 6-4, and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia edged past Yanina Wickmayer from Belgium, 6-3 6-7(4) 7-6(5) to also adance to round 2.


Danielle Collins, the No 3 seed, got past qualifier Olivia Gadecki in the Tuesday night session

ATXopen.com



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