The cumulative five-hour, 30-minute run through qualifying, which saw her grind out three-setters against German Anna-Lena Friedsam and Belgian vet Kirsten Flipkens (and literally left her on her back), might have proved too taxing for Caty McNally in the end.
The 20-year-old American never really found her footing in her main-draw opener against compatriot and friend Alison Riske on Wednesday in Tennis Paradise, where she fell, 6-0, 6-3, in one hour and 20 minutes.
“I’m a big supporter of Caty’s. Not only is she a good tennis player, she’s a great person, and I love the way she carries herself on the court,” said Riske, who fended off seven of the eight break points she faced on the afternoon. “There are only good things to come for Caty. It’s always tough playing another American. But I’m thrilled to get through.”
Riske improved to 2-0 against McNally, having also prevailed in straight sets on grass in Surbiton in 2019. She moves on to face ninth-ranked Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.
“She’s tough. She’s a Grand Slam champion,” said Riske, who won her last two matches against the Spaniard, including an opening-round decision at the US Open in 2019. “It will be a challenging match, but I feel like if I focus on what I need to do, good things can happen.”
On the heels of her quarterfinal run at the Australian Open, Estonian Kaia Kanepi opened play on Stadium 1, outpunching American wild card Robin Montgomery, 6-3, 6-3. The 36-year-old will next face Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
China’s Qinwen Zhang dismissed 2009 champion Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2, in one hour and 28 minutes. Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic outlasted American Hailey Baptiste, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, while Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina bested France’s Clara Burel, 6-3, 6-2.
“Dayana is an amazing fighter,” said Garcia, who booked a second-round encounter with No. 11 seed Emma Raducanu, the reigning US Open champion. “Every time she’s behind, she plays her best tennis. I was really fighting for one point at a time. I was shaking a little bit at the end. I was tired. But I’m very happy.”
Yastremska, who took the court draped in the azure-and-yellow of her nation’s flag, remains alive in the doubles draw her sister, 15-year-old Ivanna.
Looking ahead to her first-time matchup with Great Britain’s Raducanu, Garcia said, “I’m very confident, but the second round in this tournament is always very hard. I will prepare to play her and recover. I’m sure it will be a good match.”
Also advancing in first-round action were: Croatia’s Petra Martic (def. Anna Bondar, 7-5, 6-3), Japan’s Misaki Doi (def. Anastasia Potapova, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3), and American Claire Liu (def. Viktoriya Tomova, 7-6(2), 6-4)