Olympic champion Belinda Bencic came out of a set down and was less than 2 points from defeat before beating China’s Wang Xiyu in the first round of the Credit One Charleston Open in Charleston, SC, but Sloane Stephens survived and fell against another Chinese, Zheng Qinwen.
Switzerland’s No.10 seed Bencic edged past Wang 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 on Tuesday after falling 3-0 5-2 in the second-place tiebreak set before snatching the last 5 points to avoid a surprise in two sets.
The Swiss saved 3 of 5 break points and won 73.3% of their first-serve points, 44 of 60, en route to their first-round victory after 2 hours 26 minutes.
Wang saved a break point to hold serve before earning the first break of the match in game 7 to take a 4-3 lead, then held on to his last 2 service games to seal the first set.
The Chinese took a break for a 3-2 lead in the second, and Bencic was forced to save 2 break points before holding serve for 3-4.
The Swiss broke in the 10th game to tie it at 5-5, as Wang served for the match at 5-4, but the Chinese failed to create a match point.
Wang got an early mini-break on the first breaker point, but Bencic came back taking two mini-break points to win the tie-break and then earned 2 breaks of serve to seal the 3rd set.
A Charleston semi-finalist on his debut in 2014, Bencic reached the quarter-finals in 2019 but lost in the second round last year to Paula Badosa.
To avoid the same fate this year, she will have to stop the 16-year-old wave, the Czech Linda Fruhvirtova, who triumphed in 3 sets over the Croatian Ana Konjuh on Monday.
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Meanwhile, Charleston’s 2016 champion Stephens saved 10 of 16 break points but couldn’t match Zheng’s 84.8% success rate on her first-serve points, 28 of 33.
The 13th seeded USA fell to Zheng, 6-3 4-6 6-0, after the Chinese teenager picked up the biggest win of her young career to date.
Zheng, who was 0-4 in her record against Top 50 opposition, had endured 2 heartbreaking 3-sets in the past two months, beaten in a 3rd-set tiebreaker by Leylah Fernandez in Monterrey, and failing to convert a 4-1 lead in the final set against Angelique Kerber at Indian Wells.
There was no hesitation against Stephens, however, as Zheng found his best tennis in the deciding set, dropping just 9 points to take the bagel with 3 breaks, and sealing the victory after 2 hours and 2 minutes into a match. which was suspended for half. -one hour because of the rain.
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Elsewhere, Poland’s Magda Linette and American Coco Vandeweghe both won 3 sets in 2 hours 28 minutes, the former beating another American, Katie Volynets, 4-6 6-3 7-6(4), while the second beat Anastasia Gasanova, 6-3 4-6 6-3.
After failing to convert her own match point at 5-3 in the deciding match, Linette saved one on serve at 6-5 before outscoring the ensuing tiebreaker, Game 23 of the Hologic WTA Tour until ‘now this year in which the winner saved the match. indicate.
Linette will face last year’s US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez in the second round.
Former Top 10 player Vandeweghe, who is a lucky loser in the main draw after defending champion and expected No. 3 seed Veronika Kudermetova withdrew, notably picked up her first clay-court victory at the tour in 4 years with her victory over Gasanova, and she will now face fellow American Lauren Davis.
Two matches were suspended when the night session was canceled due to inclement weather and the possibility of a tornado in the Charleston area.
Ukraine’s Katarina Zavatska beat No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 2-3 in a second-round match, while No. 14 seed Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia led Sophie Chang of the USA 7-5, 4-4 in a first-round duel.
Top seed Aryna Sabalenka will make her Charleston debut against Alison Riske on Wednesday after Riske defeated Caty McNally in an all-American first-round contest, 7-5 6-3.
From 5-4 in the first set, Riske won 7 of the next 8 games to take control of the game.
Riske was one of 5 Americans to qualify for the second round of the day session, joined by Davis, Vandeweghe, Emma Navarro and Hailey Baptiste at this WTA 500 event.