Tennis

Charleston Open Wrap: Collins, Mertens, Pegula, Azarenka Enter WTA 500 Quarter-Finals

WTA Charleston Open is one of the oldest professional all-women's tennis tournaments in America. Danielle Collins and defending champion Ons Jabeur played the first match of the day at the clay-court event after rain Wednesday led to several matches being postponed

X/ @CharlestonOpen
Danielle Collins wins her 2nd match of the day, defeating compatriot Stephens to storm into the quarterfinals! Photo: X/ @CharlestonOpen
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Miami Open champion Danielle Collins continued an amazing run by winning two matches, beating Ons Jabeur and Sloane Stephens to reach the quarterfinals of the rain-delayed Charleston Open. (More Tennis News)

Collins, who has said this will be her final season on tour, has won 10 straight matches and 20 of her past 21 sets.

Collins and defending champion Jabeur played the first match of the day at the clay-court event after rain Wednesday led to several matches being postponed.

None of it appeared to bother the 30-year-old Collins, who spent just over three hours on the court in the two matches combined.

She topped Jabeur 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in 2 hours, 3 minutes, then returned about five hours later to take out former U.S. Open champion Stephens 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour, 11 minutes. Stephens won the title at Charleston in 2016.

“I can't remember the last time I played five sets in a day,” Collins said. "It was probably like, the juniors and 12-and-unders.

“But the inclement weather, we had to adjust,” she continued, “and I think on these days, you have to be really flexible and versatile out there.”

Jabeur, ranked sixth, lost her opening match for a fourth consecutive tournament. Jabeur is 2-6 this season.

The 22nd-ranked Collins will next face Elise Mertens, who also won twice Thursday.

Mertens, ranked 30th, needed 2 hours, 30 minutes to beat Vavara Gracheva 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the morning. She returned in the evening to defeat 15th-ranked Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1 in just over an hour.

Top-seeded Jessica Pegula also reached the final eight, beating Magda Linette 6-2, 6-2. The fifth-ranked Pegula will face Victoria Azarenka in the quarters.

“I think I served really smart and I was playing well in these conditions, which were really tricky,” Pegula said. “And luckily, I was able to play the controlled, aggressive mentality in the wind and I was kind of able to pressure her.”

Azarenka rallied to defeat Taylor Townsend 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4. 

Veronika Kudermetova, who won this title in 2021, advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia, and will take on seventh-ranked Maria Sakkari, who defeated Astra Sharma 6-4, 6-1.

She said Jabeur is a tricky player with a variety of shots that force her opponents to stay mentally ready.

“I have a little bit of experience with that, so I definitely knew how to handle it, and handled it the best as I could,” Collins said. “Then just stayed mentally resilient.”

Jabeur said she ran into a player on a big-time roll.

“It's tough to play players that have confidence and Danielle is playing really good,” Jabeur said.

Jaqueline Cristian, playing Charleston for the first time, defeated her second top-20 player this week. She followed a win over 18th-ranked Madison Keys by beating No. 20 Emma Navarro 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. 

Cristian led 5-4 in the second set before Navarro fought off two match points and took the set. The Romanian quickly shook it off.

“You're ready for it. You live in the present,” Cristian said. “You don't worry about what happened in the second set or the first, just the point itself.”

Cristian, ranked 83rd, will try to upend her third top-20 opponent when she plays 11th-ranked Daria Kasatkina, who beat Anhelina Kalinina 6-1, 6-4.

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