While the favourites were all victorious on Friday in Charleston, it was by no means easy for the four eventual victors, as Sloane Stephens and Sara Errani were both forced to battle in the quarterfinal matches, while Angelique Kerber and Elena Vesnina both advanced with solid performances. Here’s what happened on day five at the Volvo Car Open.
Going into the quarterfinals, American hopes rested entirely on the shoulders of the seventh seed, Florida-native Sloane Stephens, who was the last American standing after a disappointing third round for the hosts. Stephens faced a serious challenge in the form of 14th seed Daria Kasatkina in her quarterfinal match. Luckily for the hosts, their home hero was up to the challenge, and emerged victorious with a hard fought 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 win.
Stephens got off to a strong start in the match, shutting down the Kasatkina entirely in the opening set. The Russian failed to hold serve in the opener; her only game coming via a break of serve, although she was broken three times. However, Kasatkina upped her game in the second set and began to resist Stephen’s strong return. The 14th seed saved all seven break points she faced and broke Stephens as she was trying to serve to send the set to a tiebreak, instead sending the match to a decider. The American returned the favour in the final set, battling back and saving a match point before breaking Kasatkina at 5-5 and serving out the match to advance to the semifinals.
Fifth seed Sara Errani also faced a serious challenge in the form of the red-hot Yulia Putintseva, who had upset back-to-back seeds in her first two matches in Charleston. The first set was a battle, with both women breaking three times. But Errani called on her experience in the tiebreak, and won it 7-2 to claim the early lead. Losing the tiebreak seemed to finally kill the momentum Putintseva had been riding all tournament. The 2012 French Open runner-up took complete control in the second set, breaking the young gun three times and did not allow a single break point against her serve to seal the victory 7-6(2), 6-1.
The lone unseeded match of the day was a battle of service breaks, from which Elena Vesnina emerged victorious, narrowly edging Laura Siegemund 7-5, 6-4. Despite being broken twice herself, Vesnina converted all three of her break point opportunities in the opening set, including one late to grab the early lead. The second set was much closer, but it still took the Russian, who failed to save the lone break point against her serve, two breaks to close out the German and advance to the semifinals.
The semifinals of the Volvo Car Open will take place tomorrow, with a blockbuster between Kerber and Stephens, while the other match will feature Vesnina and Errani.