Comebacks highlighted the first day of the Volvo Car Open, with No.13 seed Amanda Anisimova, Alizé Cornet and Paula Badosa all needing to recover from a set down to move into the second round.
Cornet, a semifinalist in Charleston in 2008 and a quarterfinalist in 2018, needed to battle hardest to overcome Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 52 minutes. The Frenchwoman trailed 4-6, 2-4 and was twice a break down in the deciding set. Pera, who also reached the last eight here in 2018, dominated the first half of the match with heavy firepower and solid serving.
We're officially back to long clay court battles 👀— wta (@WTA) April 5, 2021
2 hours, 53 mins 🕰@alizecornet just edges out Bernarda Pera, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round of the @VolvoCarOpen #VolvoCarOpen pic.twitter.com/OxS2iQn7y8
However, World No.59 Cornet has built a career on tenacious battling, and came into the match with a 4-1 record in three-setters this year alone. Pera, by contrast, had dropped her last three, including a loss from 5-1 and match points up two weeks ago to Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round of Miami.
Pera had served just one double fault in the first set, but they began to pile up for the American as the match went on, ultimately tallying nine. Cornet, by contrast, dug into extended points with relish and began wheeling out her dropshot with greater efficacy.
Though Pera broke at the start of the third set and again for 4-3, groundstroke errors undid her advantage immediately both times. Serving down match point, the World No.70 put too much height and depth on a dropshot attempt, which was duly punished for a winner by Cornet.
Anisimova's 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win over Magda Linette was a measure of revenge for the American teenager. Linette had upset Anisimova 6-4, 7-5 in their only previous meeting, in the second round of Wimbledon 2019. The Pole seemed on the way to repeating that after coming out on top of a patchy opening set that featured seven breaks of serve.
But it was Anisimova who took control from there on in. The 19-year-old kicked off the second set with a series of fabulous all-court winners and never looked back, dropping serve only once more in the next two sets.
Having committed 20 unforced errors to only nine winners in the first set, Anisimova improved her ratio to 17 winners and 14 unforced errors over the second and third. Linette, who returned to action for the first time this year in Miami following knee surgery in the off-season, was unable to match her opponent, tallying 41 unforced errors overall.
Elsewhere, Badosa was twice a break down in the second set against Varvara Gracheva, but edged that before running away with the decider for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 win in two hours and 26 minutes. A smoother time was had by Ajla Tomljanovic, who dismissed Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0 in 67 minutes, and Zarina Diyas, who progressed past qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 14 minutes.