Top seed Ons Jabeur opened her account with a straight sets win over Stefanie Vogele, but 2nd-seeded Magda Linette fell victim to in-form Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano after a 3 set battle at the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston on Tuesday.
Jabeur, who reached the semi-finals of the Volvo Car Open last week, made her winning start at the WTA 250 event after toppling the Swiss, 6-4 6-1, in an hour and 7 minutes.
The Tunisian won 88.9 per cent of her first serves to set up a clash with qualifier Alycia Parks, who eased past fellow American Grace Min, 6-1 6-4.
Osorio Serrano, who claimed her maiden singles title at the Copa Colsanitas in Bogotá on Sunday, upstaged Poland’s Linette ,6-3 4-6 7-5, after 2 hours 16 minutes on the green clay of Daniel Island, South Carolina.
Two Charleston-bred players are into the second round after Emma Navarro, 19 and wild-carded into the draw, advanced after leading 6-3, 3-3 when her opponent, Czech Tereza Martinvoca, was forced to retire with a right lower leg injury.
She joins Shelby Rogers, who took barely an hour in getting past Caty McNally in her first round win on Monday.
After winning her first main-draw match last week during the Volvo Car Open, Navarro will face another wild card and fellow teenager in Linda Fruhvirtova, in round 2.
The 15-year-old Czech, who is making just her second WTA main-draw appearance, progressed when No 4 seed Alizé Cornet from France was forced to withdraw at 4-4 in the third set after 2 hours 43 minutes of play, Fruhvirtova winning through 2-6 7-6(7) 4-4 Ret.
Rogers, the No 3 seed, takes on qualifier Claire Liu of the US, who weathered Storm Sanders, a fellow qualifier from Australia, 7-5 4-6 6-0, in 2 hours 18 minutes.
A qualifier and having never been ranked better than 137th in the world, Liu came into this tournament with a solid record on the ITF circuit but without a main draw win since the 2018 US Open.
That turned around when Liu fought through two even sets and then demolished Sanders in an anti-climatic third to claim her second round place.
Eslewhere, Christina McHale defeated Italy’s Sara Errani, 7-6(3) 6-3, bringing the tally of Americans in the round of 16 to 7.
Volvo finalist Danka Kovinic from Montenegro continued her fine play in Charleston with a 6-3 6-3 win over Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova, and she next takes on American Lauren Davis, the No 7 seed, on Wednesday.
Australian Astra Sharma also advanced, with a 6-4 6-2 win over Yafang Wang from China, and she joins compatriot and No 6 seed Alja Tomljanovic in the second round.
The MUSC Women’s Health Open is a late addition to the WTA Tour calendar after the Billie Jean King Cup event set for this week was cancelled.
Volvo Car Open tournament director Bob Moran and owner Ben Navarro, father of Emma, agreed to stage a second event, with a 32-player draw, in Charleston to fill the gap.
“When the Billie Jean King Cup Final cancelled its event, which was originally scheduled for the week after the Volvo Car Open, WTA Tour CEO Steve Simon approached our team with the opportunity to host a WTA 250 level event,” said Moran.
“The WTA Tour is a true partnership between players and the tournaments,” continued Moran. “Which means we have to work together for the betterment of the Tour. Our decision to host this event is a reflection of our partnership and commitment to supporting players.”
The tournament has partnered with the WTA and the Medical University of South Carolina to develop its health and safety protocols for the event, which has allowed the team to create a safe atmosphere for players, essential staff and operational partners, but there are, again, no spectators.