San Diego | Boulter and Saville get off the mark 

Britain’s Katie Boulter and Daria Saville from Australia advanced to the 2nd-round of the Cymbiotika San Diego Open on a rain-interrupted Monday, while Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk and Marina Stakusic, a 19-year-old qualifier from Canada, were also among those to score wins on opening day.

I always think that qualifiers are pretty dangerous. I've had some of my best runs from playing qualifying. Daria Saville

Boulter earned her first win over Lesia Tsurenko, also from Ukraine, in their 4 career meetings, 6-3 6-1, after an impressive hour and 11 minutes.

“I know how tough she can be to play against,” said Boulter, who collected her 10th win over a Top 50 player. “I’ve never won against her before. I knew today was going to be an absolute battle.

“I just came out and tried to compete, and do the best I could. I don’t think either of us played our best tennis, but, sometimes, it’s about finding a way, and I did that.”

Tsurenko is ranked 36 in the world, and played some of her best tennis earlier this month in Doha, Qatar, where she stunned 6th-ranked Ons Jabeur in the 2nd-round, but the 34-year-old was unable to take the court for her Last 16 match against former World No 1 Naomi Osaka due to injury.

Boulter, the British No 1 who is ranked 49, has not played since January, having missed out on a place in the quarter-final of the Linz Open in Austria, but, against Tsurenko, who withdrew from her last 2 matches because of her right elbow injury, she was dominant from the start, drawing drew first blood with a break in the 3rd game of the match.

She saw off 2 break points in her next service game, but was then pegged back to 3-3 by Tsurenko, whose game began to leak errors that gifted the Brit another 2 breaks to close out the opener.

Boulter was broken herself at the start of the second, but an impressive response saw the Brit charge through the next 6 games and sealing the win on her first match point as a Tsurenko forehand clipped the net tape and bounced back over to her side.

While both produced 8 double-faults apiece, Boulter served up 3 aces and won 76% of points off her first delivery, but Tsurenko could only manage to pocket 4 of her 21 second-serve points.

No 6 seed Marta Kostyuk needed 3 sets to advance against Ann Li in San Diego on Monday

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Boulter, who will face 13th-ranked Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in the 2nd-round, was watched by her compatriot Jodie Burrage, who was the top seed in qualifying but fell at the first hurdle to Marina Melnikova from Russia, 6-1 7-6(2).

On Monday, Melnikova met fellow qualifier, Stakusic, who beat the 35-year-old, 6-4 5-7 6-1, to record the Canadian’s first WTA main draw win.

Stakusic won 3 ITF singles titles between September and October last year, and was a member of the Canadian Billie Jean King Cup team last year, when she won 3 of her 4 singles matches, beating players ranked inside the world’s Top 60.

She also won the deciding rubber against Martina Trevisan in the final against Italy, leading Canada to their first title in the competition.

Ranked 283, Stakusic will play the winner of the match between Donna Vekic, the No 7 seed from Croatia, and American wild-card Katherine Hui next.

Qualifier Daria Saville dispatched Zhu Lin in 2 sets on Day 1 at the WTA 500 in San Diego, California

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Saville continues to charge back toward the Top 100 after a series of injury setbacks, and, on Day 1, the 29-year-old Aussie upset 58th-ranked Zhu Lin for the second time this year, 6-3 6-3.

“I definitely had to run a lot today,” said Saville, who converted all 4 of her break-point opportunities against the Chinese No 3. “But that’s basically my game. I’m glad that I took opportunities when I could, took my own chances, and made it happen.”

It was the third win in as many days for Saville, who came through the qualifying rounds.

“I always think that qualifiers are pretty dangerous,” she said. “I’ve had some of my best runs from playing qualifying.”

Kostyuk, the No 6 seed and the only one in action on Monday, needed 3 sets to get past American qualifier Ann Liu, 6-4 4-6 6-2, while Jule Niemeier, a German qualifier, beat Varvara Gracheva of France in their first meeting, 6-3 6-0, in just 54 minutes, and Wang Xinyu from China defeated Denmark’s Clara Tauson, 6-2 2-6 6-2.

2023 champion Barbora Krejcikova defeated Sofia Kenin in the final, but is not defending her title this year

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Wednesday will see the top 4 seeds in action, led by Jessica Pegula, the World No 5, who has not competed since the Australian Open after a neck issue forced her to withdraw from the Middle East swing.

The WTA 500 in San Diego is the American’s first tournament after parting ways with coach David Witt, and, having received a bye into the 2nd-round, she will face Niemeier first.

Haddad Maia is the 2nd seed, who takes on Boulter, while 3rd-seeded Emma Navarro from the USA awaits the winner between Japanese qualifier Mai Hontama and Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Russian 4th seed, meets Wang Xinyu.

Last year’s champion, Barbora Krecjikova, defeated Sofia Kenin, 6-4 2-6 6-4, in the final to win her 8th career title and then went on to win the doubles final as well, alongside Siniakova, defeating Danielle Collins & CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-1 6–4, to lift the trophy.

The Czech, though, who is currently injured, is not defending her title in San Diego this week.

On Tuesday, former World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark, who is in the top quarter of the draw, faces Russia’s Anna Blinkova first up, while the other seed in the section is Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, the 5th seed, take on American Carolina Dolehide to start her tournament.

Barbora Krejcikova took the 2023 doubles title as well, with Kateřina Siniakova, defeating Danielle Collins & Coco Vandeweghe in the final

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images



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