INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Wildcard Caroline Dolehide fought back from a set down to secure a 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 victory over Shelby Rogers to highlight first round action at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday.
An erratic first set saw the 19-year-old WTA World No.165 fall behind, but she hit her stride midway through the second before closing out the decider in impression fashion.
"It was tough, Shelby's a really good player," she said on court when asked how she turned things around against a rival she had never previously faced. "I had to play point by point and just play positive. We were both serving great, so it was a really good match."
Indeed, it was a contest that had started encouragingly for the teenager as she delivered a serve loaded with spin perfectly onto the tramline and outside the reach of her compatriot.
Such serving was a feature of her play at sporadic intervals of her first-set performance, though outmatched by unforced errors.
Indeed, the tone for the opener was very much set when Dolehide leaked a groundstoke wide to hand the advantage immediately to her more experienced opponent.
Rogers would take full advantage. She notably attacked her opponent's backhand side before firing into the empty space on the other side of the court, picking up numerous cheap points in such a fashion to secure a series of relatively comfortable holds.
It was not until the eighth game that the 25-year-old came under any significant pressure, gifting away a couple of break points after a lapse in concentration. Dolehide, though, was not able to profit, with her big hitting failing to find its mark once more.
In the following game, the younger player again submitted cheap points at crucial moments, double faulting before drilling a backhand into the tramline to give up the opening set.
The assurance that Rogers had largely displayed in the opener was lost somewhat in the second, as the players traded unforced errors, both enjoying periods of dominance when they would go on runs that suggested they could be decisive in the course of the set.
Dolehide, in particular, was starting to become more consistent on serve, winning behind her delivery to love in the sixth game – the first time either player had managed such a feat. Her forehand was also being struck far more accurately and the tone of her performance altogether more positive.
If Rogers was not playing at her peak, though, she was showing strong staying power and three times grittily held serve to take the set into a tiebreak.
The see-saw nature of the match was encapsulated in the decisive game. Dolehide raced into a 4-0 lead but was reeling in to 5-5 thanks to a towering lob. A blistering rally on the next point saw the teenager dictate matters and earn a set point, on which she fired wide. Given another opportunity, though, she hammered an unreturnable serve down the tee.
Dolehide was by now in command, with her forehand and serve dominating the match. After holding serve, she immediately took Rogers to deuce before claiming the first break of the decider.
Down 0-3, Rogers required an injury time out to receive treatment on her left knee, and though she held serve to get on the board, it became clear the issue was impacting upon her movement.
It was fitting that Dolehide saw the match out off the back of an unreturnable serve, claiming her second Top 100 scalp in as many weeks, having beaten Hsieh Su-Wei en route to the quarterfinals in the 125k series even also held in Indian Wells last week.
"I haven't played that many matches, so getting a wildcard into that was really helpful," she admitted, before considering a forthcoming meeting with No.30 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the second round. "I've got to do that same as I did today, serve well, keep fighting and never give up."
Meanwhile, there was a memorable win for 16-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, World No.149, who picked up her first victory at Premier Mandatory level by easing past Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier.
The teenager made light of the 55 place difference in the rankings to secure a 6-2, 6-2 victory.