This year’s edition of the Volvo Car Open began with 16 seeds in the draw but come the round of 16, only half remain in contention for the title. With the likes of top seeds Madison Keys, Venus Williams and last year’s runner-up Elena Vesnina all falling out in the opening matches, fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki found herself as the highest seeded player remaining in the draw, along with seven other fellow seeds. All players took the court Thursday with eight quarterfinal spots up for grabs.
Brilliant Begu completes Charleston quarterfinal hat-trick
Romanian number two Irina-Camelia Begu has been on a slump since winning her most recent title at Florianopolis last August. In the opening match of the day on Volvo Car Stadium, the 26-year-old went head-to-head with 2009 champion and sixth seed Samantha Stosur for a spot in the last eight in what was one of two all-seeded last 16 matchups. 10th seed Begu boasts an excellent record on the green clay here, making the quarterfinals on her two prior appearances in 2015 and 2016 and was aiming to achieve that feat for the third time in a row.
Begu never seemed unfazed by the threat Stosur posed, only dropping serve once, in the opening set, but broke her opponent’s serve four times, en route to winning the match 7-5, 6-3 for a spot in her first quarterfinal of 2017, her first since Florianopolis. This tournament also marks the first time Begu has won consecutive matches on the tour since winning Florianopolis.
Wozniacki impresses in double-duty assignment
2011 champion Wozniacki was the only seed who had to play two matches Thursday after rain resulted in her opening match being delayed the night before. The Dane faced Germany’s Annika Beck in her first match of the day, defeating her 7-5, 6-1 to move into the third round where she went up against Aussie qualifier Anastasia Rodionova.
Wozniacki got off to a superb start against her opponent, reeling off the first four games of the match to earn herself a double-break lead, which she clung on to en route to grabbing the opening set. The ensuing set was a much tighter one, Wozniacki getting broken to love in the sixth game to allow Rodionova back into the match. However, the resurgent Dane never looked back henceforth as she racked in the final three games of the match for her 25th win and seventh quarterfinal of the year.
Lucic-Baroni moves past Bertens
11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni took on seventh seed Kiki Bertens in the only other all-seeded round of 16 encounter. Croat Lucic-Baroni was seeking to make her second consecutive quarterfinal appearance of 2017 after reaching the last eight in Miami a week ago.
It was a shaky affair between both big-hitting women, each dropping serve multiple times but it was Lucic-Baroni who played better in the moments that mattered most that earned her the win over her Dutch opponent, overcoming Bertens 7-6(5), 6-4. Having lost in this very stage of the tournament last year, the Croat goes one round better this time around, making her fourth overall quarterfinal of the season.
Rogers keeps American hopes alive
Charleston native Shelby Rogers went up agaisnt Japan's Naomi Osaka in the closing match of the day on Volvo Car Stadium. Coming off a superb victory over top seed Keys in the previous round and being America's only representation left in the draw come the last 16 stage, Rogers had the pressure of keeping the hopes of a local player in the quarterfinals on her shoulders.
Up against the equally powerful Osaka, the American, a lover of the clay, impressed the crowd by seeing off her opponent in 90 minutes with a scoreline of 6-4, 6-2. Rogers only dropped serve once throughout the contest and broke Osaka's serve a total of four times. The American faced break points while trying to serve out the match but was bravely staved off. She then went on to convert match point on her first attempt to advance to her maiden quarterfinal appearance of the tournament.
Other matches on Volvo Car Stadium include a ‘Battle of the Darias’ as ninth seed Daria Gavrilova took on her younger Daria counterpart Daria Kasatkina, the younger player emerging victor with the score 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. Last year’s quarterfinalist Laura Siegemund scored a surprise win over Czech lefty Lucie Safarova, surrendering just five games to her opponent, for a place in her first quarterfinal of the year.
Over on Althea Gibson Club Court, Latvian duo, the eighth seed Anastasija Sevastova and younger compatriot Jelena Ostapenko also secured themselves quarterfinal berths, beating lucky loser Ons Jabeur and Hungarian Fanny Stollar (via retirement) respectively.
As of the quarterfinal stage, only four seeds remain in the draw. Begu and Kasatkina will open quarterfinal proceedings on Volvo Car Stadium Friday afternoon, followed by Sevastova-Siegemund and Rogers-Lucic-Baroni. Meanwhile, Wozniacki and Ostapenko headline the evening session.