HOUSTON, TX, USA - Top seed Belinda Bencic was made to work in her debut match at the Oracle Challenger Series Houston WTA 125K event, needing to save match points to escape an inspired Allie Kiick and reach the second round.
Trailing a set and 0-4, Bencic mounted an improbable comeback to turn the tables on the American, saving match point during the tiebreaker to win 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 after a hard-fought hour and 50 minutes on court.
It was an otherwise great day for the rest of the Americans in Houston, with four more players charging to victory - for a total of six into the second round - led by No.9 seed Nicole Gibbs, who narrowly defeated countrywoman Asia Muhammad 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1.
Joining her in the next round are a pair of American qualifiers, Lauren Davis and Whitney Osuigwe, as well as lucky loser Jacqueline Cako who all scored strong straight sets wins to advance: David ran past Kristina Kucova 6-4, 6-3, while Osuigwe defeated big-serving Naomi Broady 6-4, 6-3, while Cako took down fellow Elizabeth Halbauer 6-2, 6-4.
Also into the second round, Chinese wildcard Peng Shuai had a similarly close battle on her hands in her match against Beatriz Haddad Maia, needing a marathon two hours and 24 minutes to edge a 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1 victory.
No.3 seed Heather Watson also advanced on Tuesday, needing three sets against American Jamie Loeb to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. No.5 seed Fanny Stollar also scored a victory, defeating Ann Li 7-5, 6-3, and Kurumi Nara knocked out Varvara Flink to win 6-2, 6-3.
A pair of lucky losers rounded out the day’s winners, with Reka-Luca Jani storming past Louisa Chirico in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, and Katherine Sebov defeating Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 7-6(5) in two hours and 13 minutes.