The qualifying rounds got underway on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open, where 94th-ranked Kazakh Zarina Diyas advanced via a 6-4, 7-5 win over No. 134-ranked lefthander Varvara Lepchenko of the United States.
The shaky opening set featured no less than five service breaks, but it was Diyas, fresh off a semifinal showing at the $125,000 Oracle Challenger Series event in Indian Wells, who came out on top. Serving to stay in the set at 4-5 and facing her sixth break point, Lepchenko swatted a backhand into the net to fall behind.
There were five more breaks in the second set, the final one sealing the match for Diyas.
Lepchenko, a former Top 20 player who at age 32 is trying to work her way back into the Top 100, had twice reached the third round of the main draw in Indian Wells. But on Monday, the Pennsylvanian struggled to hold serve. While managing to land 64 of 79 first serves (81 percent), Lepchenko won just 33 of those points (52 percent).
Diyas managed to overcome five double faults in the one-hour, 33-minute contest. The 25-year-old’s best result at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden came in 2015, when she reached the third round of the main draw (l. to then-world No. 1 Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-0).