Charleston | Collins makes Last 8 alongside Pegula, Sakkari and Kasatkina

Four players faced double duty on Thursday because rain delayed the schedule on Wednesday, and making it into the quarter-finals after a two-win Day 4 were Maria Sakkari, Elise Mertens and Danielle Collins at the Credit One Charleston Open in South Carolina.

Obviously it's not easy coming out and playing two matches back to back, but very rewarding thing to be able to accomplish against two incredibly high-level players, a Top 6 player and a Grand Slam champion. So I should be able to take this and use it as confidence moving forward, especially with the previous health and physical challenges that I've had, it's a really rewarding day for me. Danielle Collins

Collins, the Miami Open champion and unseeded here, toppled her good friend, Ons Jabeur, the No 2 seed from Tunisia, 6-3 1-6 6-3, earlier in the day before returning 5 hours later to beat fellow American, Sloane Stephens, 6-2 6-2. 

In what she says is her final season on tour, Collins now has won 10 matches in a row, and 20 of her past 21 sets.

She and defending champion Jabeur played the opening match of the day at the clay-court WTA 500 event, and finally dropped a set, but the the 30-year-old bounced back after a 2 hour and 3 minute contest, and then returned to kick off the night session, taking out former US Open champion Stephens in an hour, 11 minutes.

“I can’t remember the last time I played five sets in a day,” Collins said. “It was probably, like, the juniors and 12-and-unders.

“But the inclement weather, we had to adjust, and, I think on these days, you have to be really flexible and versatile out there.”

Jabeur, the World No 6, has lost her opening match in the 4th consecutive tournament, and is now 2-6 for the season.

“It’s tough to play players that have confidence, and Danielle is playing really good,” Jabeur said later.

Stephens, who won the title here in 2011, had earlier beaten No 14 seed Leylah Fernandez, the 2021 US Open finalist from Canada, for the first time in 4 career meetings in her own postponed 2nd-round match, 6-4 6-4.

In fact, Stephens was scheduled to play 3 potential matches on Thursday, but got a welcome reprieve when she won her first singles match of the day, and her doubles match with Ashlyn Krueger was pushed to Friday, leaving her free to focus on her second against blistering-hot Collins.

“Obviously it’s not easy coming out and playing two matches back to back, but very rewarding thing to be able to accomplish against two incredibly high-level players, a Top 6 player and a Grand Slam champion,” Collins said after beating Stephens.

“So I should be able to take this and use it as confidence moving forward, especially with the previous health and physical challenges that I’ve had, it’s a really rewarding day for me.” 

Elise Mertens got past qualifier Varvara Garcheva and then took out Elina Svitolina to reach the Charleston quarter-finals on Thursday

© Elsa/Getty Images

Collins will next face Mertens, after the Belgian topped Elina Svitolina, the 7th seed from Ukraine, for the 3rd time in 7 meetings, and the first since 2021, in a 6-4 6-1 win.

Svitolina was a 6-2 6-4 winner over qualifier Daria Saville, winning her 7th straight match against the Australian, and 8th overall in 10 meetings, to reach the 3rd-round, while Mertens got past Varvara Gracheva, 6-4 3-6 6-2 earlier on.

Mertens, ranked 30th, needed 2 hours, 30 minutes to beat the Russian-born Frenchwoman in the morning, and returned in the evening to defeat 15th-ranked Svitolina in just over an hour.

Top seed Jessica Pegula faced little trouble advancing to the Last 8 against Magda Linette on Day 4 of the WTA 500 event in Charleston

© Elsa/Getty Images

Top-seed Jessica Pegula survived a harrowing opening match against fellow American Amanda Anisimova that ran nearly two-and-a-half hours, but made short work defeating Poland’s Magda Linette, 6-2 6-2, on Thursday.

“The scoreline was straightforward, but I don’t think she was playing her best tennis,” Pegula said afterwards. “But I served really smart, and I was playing really well in these conditions, which were tricky.

“Luckily I was able to play the controlled, aggressive mentality in the wind, and was able to pressure her. I think, for her to try and be more aggressive in these conditions is tough. So I think I drew some errors there.”

The 30-year old looked sharp throughout, winning 31 of her 39 service points while not facing a break point, and she broke Linette in back-to-back service games to emerge with the first set after just 25 minutes.

She broke again in Linette’s first two service games of the second, and took a commanding 4-0 lead.

Victoria Azarenka had to dig deep to see off Taylor Townsend and meets Jessica Pegula next

© Elsa/Getty Images

On Friday Pegula will play No 12 seed Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, who knocked off Taylor Townsend, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4.

The American may be ranked 168, but Townsend has been giving players lots of problems of late, and on this occasion she forced Azarenka to dig deep.

The Belarusian eventually turned the match around in her favour against the left-hander, needing all her court craft to do so.

“It just probably sums up the whole match. It was so dramatic,” said Azarenka of a phenomenal match point that saw her use every bit of her reach in sliding defensive shots, eventually outfoxing Townsend’s final volley with a charging backhand pushed into the open court to cap a 13-point rally.

“Taylor played great, she hit so many lines. Her serve was really tough. I feel, like, especially in the second set, I got a really important break, and got a little better energy, better rhythm there.”

The former World No 1 went 4 for 18 on her break point chances during the hard-fought battle.

“Just to be able to create those opportunities, it’s really important,” she added. “I feel, like, it does apply pressure on my opponent.

“In the important moments, I still kept positive. It was really tough conditions to feel the rhythm. I’m happy I was able to fight through that.”

Earlier in the week, Pegula gave Azarenka something to think about.

“We practiced here the first day I got here. She kicked my ass!” laughed the 12th seed. “So I’m going to try to get my revenge.

“Jessie is a great player. We always have tough battles.”

Jaqueline Cristian ended hometown hopes for Emma Navarro in 3 sets and takes on former Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina in the quarters

© Elsa/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Jaqueline Cristian from Romania eliminated an American opponent for the 3rd consecutive round, adding home favourite Emma Navarro to her growing list, following her wins over qualifier Sachia Vickery and 8th seed Madison Keys.

Cristian downed Navarro, the 10th seed, 6-3 5-7 6-1, capitalising on 9 of her 11 break points, to line up a Last 8 encounter with former champion Daria Kasatkina, after the No 4 seed dispatched Anhelina Kalinina, the 15th seed from Ukraine, 6-1 6-4.

The Romanian led 5-4 in the second set before Navarro fought off 2 match points and levelled the match, but Cristian quickly shook it off.

“You’re ready for it. You live in the present,” she said. “You don’t worry about what happened in the second set, or the first, just the point itself.”

Cristian, ranked 83, will try to upend her 3rd Top 20 opponent when she plays Kasatkina on Friday.

Veronika Kudermetova, the No 9 seed from Russia who won this title in 2021, advanced with a 7-5 6-1 upset win over Brazilian wild-card Beatriz Haddad Maia, seeded 5, posting her first Top 20 win of the season to advance to the quarter-finals where she will take on World No 7 Maria Sakkari from Greece, who defeated Australian lucky loser Astra Sharma, 6-4 6-1 to make the Last 8 for the 3rd consecutive time.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :