The tournament has been played since 1973 and wasn’t contested in 2 years (1973,2020) and with a 48 draw size (64 but first 6 seeds gets a bye in R2) filled with top tier players, has always brought quality matches and also it can be said that brings a good measurement where the participants currently are in their hard court to clay transition.
Played on green clay who is significantly fast than the red one used in Europe, seems to fit a much faster adaptation from the girls, before flying to Europe for the continuation of the Clay court season
With the tournament cancelled last year due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, the defending champion is the 2019 one – Madison Keys
Favourites/Top Seeds…. From where should I start? 9 top 20 players, 3 Top 10 ones including the Miami Open Champion and world number 1 Ashleigh Barty, Sofia Kenin (#4), Petra Kvitova (#10). The 16 seeds fit into the first 43 Ranking which Is really impressive.
Madison Keys who has won the tournament in 2019 and had a SF here in 2018 is in the same bracket with Barty so a potential QF showdown would be a great encounter.
Garbine Muguruza who plays every week with great success returns to Charleston. Her last appearance came in 2013, a 1st round loss to very improved now Jessica Pegula. A match between her and Kvitova on a fast clay court should deliver a mouth watering encounter.
Underdogs/Dark Horses… Tall,hard hitting Elna Rybakina should be in the mix of potential threats. 6’0’’ Kazakh had some hard-fought losses in the last month, but all those came from players inside top 60. Her powerful groundstrokes can match the best on any given day and will be interesting player to see in the top part of the draw where Bencic and Barty are.
With similar ground strokes and power to Rybakina, Kudermetova is capable of doing damage with favorable draw like this one. 3rd round with 4th seed Kiki Bertens seems to be one to look for and she is capable of overcoming her due to Kiki’s still lack form due to the Achilles surgery she had last year and that forced her to miss the start of the season.
Update : Kiki Bertens withdrew because of the already mentioned Achilles problem that still gives her problems and her place in the draw was taken by #9 Seed Marketa Vondrousova. That doesn’t change much as how high I rate Veronika in this part of the draw,as she has the game to cause problems for the lefty Czech,although definitely Marketa’s form is better than what Kiki would have brought to the table
Notable matchup… C.Gauff – T.Pironkova stands out as a great generation matchup. This seems to be the case most of the times when Gauff plays though, while being only 17 years of age and facing someone like Tsvetana who is 33. Will be interesting to see how Cori will match up against the slices and all around different playing style that the Bulgarian has. They haven’t met yet, but given the fact that Pironkova missed 3 years (July. 2017-Aug.2020 ) for paternity leave and overall hiatus from the game, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Since then though the Bulgarian made it to the QF in US Open and 3rd round in French Open and has boosted her ranking to 131 from basically not ranked in less than a year.
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