The inaugural WTA 500 San Diego Open starts the run-up to the WTA Finals that begin in Fort Worth next month with a strong field led by World No 1 Iga Swiatek that includes top-ranked Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff as well as Canada’s Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez.
The match was very tight and it could have gone either way. I felt, towards the end, I felt I was putting a little bit more pressure that she was and I was a little bit more consistent. Bianca Andreescu
The top 4 seeds receive byes into the 2nd-round, where Swiatek will face either Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina or Garbiñe Muguruza, with a potential rematch of the French Open final looming in the 3rd-round against 18-year old Gauff.
Liudmila Samsonova moved into the main draw after No 15 Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil withdrew from the tournament after the draw was made, and before qualifying began, and will face Andreescu in the 1st-round.
No 4 seed Pegula anchors the second quarter of the draw along with 8th-seeded Dari Kasatkina, while No 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka leads the third quarter together with 5th-seed Maria Sakkari, who took a late wild-card.
No 2 seed Paula Badosa from Spain and 7th seed Caroline Garcia from France lead the last quarter of the draw.
The Frenchwoman, however, failed to get off the mark as America’s Danielle Collins, playing her first match since the US Open, upset her, 6-2 7-6(4), on Monday in the 1st-round.
The World No 19 needed exactly 90 minutes to score her 9th career Top 10 win, taking out the World No 10 for the second time in as many career meetings.
Collins, a 28-year-old from Florida, reached her first Grand Slam final in January, when she fell to Ash Barty for the Australian Open title, before making early exits at the French Open and Wimbledon ahead of a 4th-round showing at the US Open.
On Monday, Collins overcame a rocky serving performance that saw her put just 48 percent of her first serves into play while logging 7 double-faults to her 5 aces.
“Caro has been playing incredible this year, a lot of great achievements especially over the summer and a lot of matches under her belt playing big tennis, first-strike, hitting really good serves and returns, taking the ball early and trying to end the point really quickly, not giving much rhythm,” Collins said. “I knew that going in, and I just had to go out and beat her to the punch as much as possible.”
Garcia’s summer surge included a title in Cincinnati and a semi-final berth at the US Open, which got her back into the Top 10.
Although Collins hit 4 fewer winners than Garcia, 14 to 18, she was the more consistent performer in the high-octane rallies, and was not afraid to change the pace as testified by her match point where she pinned the Frenchwoman behind the baseline with heavy groundstrokes, and then charged forwarded to finish off victory with a feathered forehand drop-shot.
Collins will next face Roland Garros semi-finalist Martina Trevisan, who was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Colombia’s Camila Osorio to snap a 7-match losing skid.
The two have never played, but Collins is a fan of the Italian left-hander.
“I really have loved watching her play,” Collins said. “I love her competitiveness, and I love the ‘Come on’s. I do a lot of that myself, so I think it’s going to be a really competitive match and a fun one.”
Three other US players won their 1st-round matches – Madison Keys, who dispatched Australian qualifier Ellen Perez, 6-1 6-4; Coco Vandeweghe, a 6-1 1-6 6-4 winner over Sophie Kenin, and Louisa Chirico after the qualifier edged past Alison Riske-Amritraj, 1-6 7-5 7-6(5).
All 3 had cause to celebrate as Chirico scored her first WTA main-draw win in 5 years, while Keys snapped a 3-match losing streak, and Vandeweghe notched up her first tour-level win since April.
Meanwhile, Andreescu outgunned lucky loser Samsonova, 7-6(1) 4-6 6-2, in the last match of the night.
It was a quality win for Andreescu, who successfully defused Samsonova’s power game after 2 hours and 38 minutes in the opening round of the stacked draw.
Samsonova, the World No 23, had won 3 of her past 4 tournaments entering the WTA Tour 500 event, while Andreescu, ranked 57, was playing for the first time since losing in the 3rd-round of the US Open last month.
“The match was very tight and it could have gone either way,” said Andreescu after handing Samsonova just her second loss in 20 matches.”I felt, towards the end, I felt I was putting a little bit more pressure that she was and I was a little bit more consistent.”
Andreescu kept the pressure on Samsonova’s service games, generating 15 break points in the match and breaking 5 times.
She led by a set and a break before the Russian powered through to force a decider, in which Andreescu broke for an early 2-0 lead, and then held on to win after 2 hours and 38 minutes.
The victory sets up a potential 2nd-round showdown with Gauff, who faces fellow-American Robin Montgomery in her opener on Tuesday.
“I try not to have any expectations going into this season but it’s definitely better than I thought,” Andreescu told WTA Insider. “After the US Open I took a few days, maybe a week in Costa Rica, my happy place. I didn’t play any tournaments, I’ve just been training.
“I just wanted to have a longer pre-season in a way, instead of just playing tournaments.
“I wanted to get some good training in because, this summer, was a little bit all over the place, with my back and some other things.
“So I didn’t want to go all the way to Europe and then come back here because the goal is to play Guadalajara, and I didn’t want to do too much traveling.”
Andreescu initially took a wild-card into qualifying in San Diego before withdrawals boosted her into the main draw.