Defending champion Liudmila Samsonova swept past Sorana Cirstea to advance to the quarter-finals of the Mubadala Citi DC Open on Wednesday, while Elina Svitolina maintained her dominance over Daria Kasatkina, and Madison Keys got the better of Jennifer Brady.
Unfortunately, we had to play each other so early, but I think there's a lot of great tennis for Jenny [Brady] to play. Her level in the first set was very high so I have no doubt that she'll be back where she should be soon. Madison Keys
It took Samsonova just 59 minutes to oust Cirstea, 6-1 6-3, the Romanian only managing to save 1 of 5 break points against the Russian, who won 25 of 29 her first-service points as she continues her quest to earn back-to-back titles at the event.
Samsonova, who beat Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, 4-6 6-3 6-3, in the final last year, will face either No 2 seed Caroline Garcia from France or Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk next.
Svitolina took her career record over Kasatkina, the Russian 5th seed, to 8-0 with a dominant 6-2 6-2 win at the WTA 500 hard court tournament in Washington, where the Ukrainian reached the Last 8 to face either top-seeded American Jessica Pegula or lucky loser Peyton Stearns, who play on Thursday.
“I just try to fight each time I play Dasha,” said Svitolina, who also beat Kasatkina in straight sets in the 4th-round at Roland Garros this year. “She’s a tough opponent to face, and each time I try to play just one extra ball over the net, to take and dictate the game. I’m really happy I won the match today.”
Svitolina, playing her 8th tournament since returning from maternity leave, belted 29 groundstroke winners, including 22 on her forehand, while she saved all 10 break points she faced, 9 of them coming in just two games, her gritty hold to claim the opening set, and a marathon game for a 5-1 lead in the second.
The former World No 3, in posting the lone upset of the day, took an hour and 36 minutes, winning 68% of her first-serve points and 44% of her second serve points.
Svitolina also struck 29 winners off the ground, 22 on her forehand, during the match, which was played in hot and humid conditions, and, from 2-1 down in the opener, the Ukrainian won 9 straight games to establish a 6-2, 4-0 lead.
When the match ended, Svitolina stuck to her policy of declining to shake her Russian opponent’s hand.
Meanwhile, Keys, the American 7th seed, advanced to her 3rd consecutive quarter-final after defeating her compatriot and doubles partner, Brady, 6-4 6-0, where she will face either No 4 seed Maria Sakkari from Greece or Canada’s Leylah Fernandez on Friday for a spot in the semi-finals.
Playing in her first Hologic WTA Tour event in nearly 2 years, Brady came into the match after a confident 6-2 6-1 win over Rome finalist Anhelina Kalinina in the 1st-round, and the 2021 Australian Open finalist held a 1-0 head-to-head advantage over Keys, winning their only other meeting at 2019 Beijing.
“I think I’m not the only person on tour to say that we’re so happy to have Jenny back,” Keys said of her doubles partner. “She’s had such a long road and we’re so happy she’s back from injury and playing some great tennis.”
Brady broke serve immediately in the first game of the match, but Keys responded with 4 consecutive games to build a 4-1 lead.
Responding with a surge of her own, Brady saved 2 set points on her serve before breaking Keys to get back on track at 5-4, but, trying to level the score, the American was broken for a 3rd time in the set.
Keys continued to pull away in the second when play was interrupted at 6-4, 3-0 due to light issues and the match was moved to Stadium Court, but the change in scenery did not deter the former World No 7, who sealed the win on her 4th match point.
“Unfortunately, we had to play each other so early, but I think there’s a lot of great tennis for Jenny to play,” Keys said. “Her level in the first set was very high so I have no doubt that she’ll be back where she should be soon.”
Keys levelled their head-to-head by breaking Brady’s serve 6 times over the course of the 66-minute match.
In two other 2nd-round matches, No 6 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland swept aside American Lauren Davis, 6-1 6-4, in 78 minutes, while, in a match between US countrywomen, 3rd-seeded Coco Gauff defeated Hailey Baptiste, 6-1 6-4.
It was Gauff’s first main-draw match win at the Mubadala Citi DC Open of her career.
In the first singles meeting between the two young Americans, the World No 7 ousted 204th-ranked Baptiste at the qualifier’s hometown event after 77 minutes of play.
“Playing Hailey, a friend, known her for a long time,” Gauff said after her win. “It was really cool to play her in front of her hometown, and hopefully we have many more battles in the future.
“We practiced together so many times. Camps together. We even shared a room together in Palm Springs for, like, three weeks or two weeks. We were roommates. Yeah, we know each other very well.”
On Wednesday evening on Stadium Court, 19-year-old Gauff did not drop serve, and she won over half of the points returning 21-year-old Baptiste’s second deliveries.
She had to stare down 3 break points in her second service game of the match, though, but, after getting out of that jam, Gauff cruised through the rest of her service games in that set behind sturdy deliveries.
In the much closer second set, Gauff took control by prevailing in a 5-deuce game to break for a 4-3 lead, and eased on to victory from there, converting her first match point with her 5th ace of the day.
The 2022 French Open finalist’s next opponent will be Bencic, the 2021 Olympic gold medalist, who beat Gauff, 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-2 in the Adelaide semi-finals in February of 2021, their only prior meeting.
Interestingly, none of the five 2nd-round matches played on Wednesday at the Citi DC Open needed a third set to determine the outcome, while the remaining three Round 2 matches will be played on Thursday.