Lauren Davis tops Kenin in Charleston, gets Gauff next; Barty cruises

Lauren Davis tops Kenin in Charleston, gets Gauff next; Barty cruises

At the Volvo Car Open Wednesday, Lauren Davis took down No. 2 seed Sofia Kenin, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Fellow Americans Coco Gauff and Caty McNally also advanced.

Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff entered Wednesday in Charleston with an opportunity to square off for the first time since the fourth round of the 2020 Australian Open, when Kenin rallied to win a three-setter en route to lifting her first major trophy.

That anticipated matchup soon turned into an alternative all-American showdown to look forward to at the Volvo Car Open, after Lauren Davis upstaged world No. 4 Kenin, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, to take their second-round encounter.

"She spreads the ball like no one I've ever played before. She moves it very well. Makes a ton of balls but is also very aggressive," Davis told Steve Weissman at the Tennis Channel Desk. "I was struggling in the first set and a half with my serve. I was kind of hitting the ball too flat. I started thinking a bit and I found she wasn't too much a fan of high balls. So I really took advantage of that."

Both players teed off on return, though Davis applied far more pressure. Kenin was able to keep the contest close by capitalizing on seven of nine break opportunities.

Volvo Car Open/Chris Smith

The second seed erased a 0-3 double-break deficit in the third, later reaching ad-in for 4-3 by fighting off three break points. But Davis kept at it, eventually claiming an eighth and decisive break of serve to regain her advantage—one she didn’t let slip again—to move to 2-1 in the pair's head-to-head series. Kenin dropped to 7-6 on the year.

In the next match on court, Gauff found herself down a set to Ludmilla Samsonova. The No. 14 seed mounted a composed comeback, hitting 89 percent of her first serves in and racking up eight aces to zero double faults to advance, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. The 17-year-old and Davis have never met previously.

Gauff's doubles partner, Caty McNally, also moved through. McNally battled past Anastasija Sevastova, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4, and will meet Paula Badosa for a place in the quarterfinals. Badosa ousted No. 5 seed Belinda Bencic, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-1. The Swiss was joined by Elise Mertens in exiting, as Alizé Cornet tripped up the No. 7 seed, 7-5, 6-3.

In the early evening, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty cruised into the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Misaki Doi. Fresh off her Miami title defense, Barty ended her day with 23 winners to 18 unforced errors, moving to a 15-2 mark in 2021. She will meet next Shelby Rogers.

The Mount Pleasant, S.C. mounted a major comeback against No. 13 seed Amanda Anisimova to give herself a shot at avenging a pair of 2021 defeats to the Australian. Anisimova served up 6-1, 4-1, but endured a right-leg injury, and to her credit, Rogers clawed her way back. 

The 19-year-old American, who received a warning for racket abuse, then later incurred a point penalty for leaving the court for an unauthorized reason, had a shot to level for 5-5 in the third. But with a bit of hometown luck perhaps, a double kiss of the net pushed the 10th game to deuce, and she closed out the comeback two points later.

Rogers will now look to defeat Barty for the first time in four attempts.