Three Brits lined up for the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, with Heather Watson and Katie Boulter direct entries and Harriet Dart in qualifying over the weekend so what were the chances two of them would meet in the main draw of 32?
Winning the US Open was the result of a lifetime of hard work. It was such an incredible experience, and one that I’m working to hopefully have again soon. Before the US Open, I was away from the game for 11 months with a serious foot injury and only started competing again at Wimbledon that July. That time away from the sport and the intense work it took to recover made the victory even more special. Sloane Stephens
Well, former Monterrey champion Heather Watson, back in action after a tough start to the year Down Under, faces Dart as a Lucky Loser in her opener on Tuesday.
Dart upset qualifying No 4 seed Sara Errani from Italy, 6-0 6-2, on Saturday, but went down to Spain’s Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, 6-4 7-5, on Sunday.
Then, when Watson’s opponent Danka Kovonic from Montenegro withdrew from the event, Dart was drawn in the lucky loser slot replacing her.
It has been a while since Watson faced her Fed Cup team-mate, but she leads their head-to-head 1-0.
Unfortunate to be part of the hard lockdown crew, Watson came away with just one win in Australia after just one in the season opener in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, Boulter’s singles campaign faltered in a straight sets defeat at the hands of Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
Boulter reached a career-high world ranking of 82 in February 2019 but has since dropped to 318 as she suffered with stress fracture in her back, which forced her off the WTA Tour for much of the year.
The 24-year-old was beaten 6-4 6-0 on Monday by the Spanish World No 111, who is ranked 207 places higher.
Boulter broke first to go 3-2 up in the first set, only for Schmiedlova to immediately break back and win all but one of the games thereafter.
In other Monday results, Canada’s teenage prodigy Leylah Fernandez took care of American wild card Coco Vandeweghe, 6-3 6-2, while her next opponent, Viktoria Kuzmova from Slovakia, got past another American, Caroline Dolehide, 6-3 6-1.
Italy’s Jasmine Paolini upset the No 9 seed Nao Hibino from Japan after a long tussle, 3-6 6-2 6-3, and takes on Schmiedlova in round 2.
Elsewhere, Ann Li, the 8th seed from the US, defeated Arantxa Ru of the Netherlands, 6-3 7-5, to play Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek next, who stopped Mexican wild card, Renta Zarazua’s progress, 7-6(8) 6-3, in another tight affair.
American Lauren Davis was a 1-6 6-2 6-3 winner of a topsy-turvy encounter with Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif.
Top seeds Sloane Stephens and Nadia Podoroska go into action on Tuesday when the American takes on Lucky Loser Kristina Kucova from Slovakia, with the winner facing Fernandez in the second round, while the Argentine plays Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya.
Stephens has had a challenging run of matches over the first two months of the year and, at 27, currently sits at No. 48 in the WTA’s world rankings.
She made her first big splash in 2017 when she won the US Open, her first Grand Slam singles title.
“Winning the US Open was the result of a lifetime of hard work,” Stephens told Andy Frye on forbes.com. “It was such an incredible experience, and one that I’m working to hopefully have again soon.
“Before the US Open, I was away from the game for 11 months with a serious foot injury and only started competing again at Wimbledon that July.
“That time away from the sport and the intense work it took to recover made the victory even more special.”
Off the court, Stephens stays busy, not only training and travelling but in her work running the Sloane Stephens Foundation, an organisation that provides tennis equipment and training to school children, primarily in Compton, California.
Her foundation has helped more than 4,000 kids take up tennis and other athletic pursuits and, outside her foundation work, Stephens is also an active investor with a keen interest in wellness and nutrition.
She has recently taken on a role as an investor partner with Quantum Energy Squares, where she is a strategic investor and member of their Athlete Advisory Board.
“I hope to help the brand expand nationwide and educate consumers about balanced energy options for their busy lives,” she told Frye.
“I discovered the bars in 2019, and was an avid consumer before becoming an investor.
“That is a really important part of my decision making process when it comes to any new partnership.
“Not only does Quantum have a sports dietician and food scientist on board, but they also have a pastry chef to make sure the products actually taste great.
“Once I built a relationship with the team and learned all of the science that goes into the bars, I knew I wanted to become more involved.”