NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - The seeds went 2-0 on Day 1 of the New Haven Open at Yale on Sunday, with Marion Bartoli and Lucie Safarova getting by their first round opponents in straight sets at the Premier-level tournament.
The No.8-seeded Safarova was up 63 41 on fellow lefty Varvara Lepchenko before the American had to retire from the match because of a left wrist injury.
Safarova is playing her second tournament as a Top 20 player, having broken the elite last week after years of hovering in the No.21-30 ranking range.
"It was a goal of mine for about five years to reach the Top 20, and I was close a few years, so I'm very happy I finally made it," Safarova said. "I haven't done very well at the Grand Slams this year, so that could go better for sure. But I have had great results in other big tournaments. I feel pretty good right now."
The No.5-seeded Bartoli was cruising against British wildcard Laura Robson, 63 40, when Robson reeled off three games in a row to get back on serve, 63 43; but Bartoli fired off two quick games to put an end to the match, 63 63.
"I was feeling quite comfortable when I was up 63 40, but she played some really good points to come back," Bartoli said. "It wasn't a huge turning point though - I stayed focused and consistent and that's why I was able to get through that. It was a good win, straight sets and neither set going too deep."
"I played pretty well today. I played a person who's ranked higher than me. I went out there, tried to play my game and felt great," Stephens said. "You always want to peak at a Slam, so I really want to play well here and hopefully play my best tennis at the US Open in New York next week too."
"I got back from London and had awful stomach pain, fever, chills, everything - I went to the hospital and found out I had gastro from something I ate, probably. I was really sick and couldn't do anything for a whole week. I went and played Montréal and Cincinnati, but in hindsight I probably should have taken some more time off. It just made it worse and actually put my recovery backwards.
"I was so sad when I had to pull out here. It's like a home tournament for me, living so close, and earlier this year I came here to do a kids clinic. I look forward to this event all year; it was a hard decision for me to make."