Make it six straight wins for Elina Svitolina in the Windy City. After capturing the Chicago Women's Open in August prior to the US Open, the Ukrainian kept her unbeaten streak going on Wednesday by beating Amanda Anisimova in the second round of the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic, 6-4, 6-3.
Stretched to three sets against France's Clara Burel in the first round of August's WTA 250, there was no such trouble for the top seed against the former French Open semifinalist to start her campaign at the WTA 500 event: she broke serve five times in all to wrap up a comprehensive 80-minute victory.
"The time went really quick and I'm really happy that I chose to come back and with the win today as well," Svitolina said on-court after the match. "It's never easy to play against Amanda. She's striking the ball really well and she's a great competitor. It's been a good day for me today and I'm really happy I finished the match in two sets."
Quick feet the key to victory: Revealing that she took a few weeks off after the US Open, Svitolina also added that she was most pleased with her movement against the hard-hitting American. "I had to really stay focused... and stay competitive," she said, and the statistics reflected that: despite hitting twice Svitolina's winners (19 to 9), Anisimova also hit 30 unforced errors to Svitolina's 12.
Svitolina improved her head-to-head record against Anisimova to 3-1, including 2-0 this year. They last played on clay at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, in which Svitolina rallied from a set down for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win in the second round.
Up next: Svitolina will next face Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse for a spot in the quarterfinals. The Hamburg champion and Palermo runner-up, who scored her first main-draw victory in two months over Montreal champion and No. 15 seed Camila Giorgi in the first round, knocked off Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova, 7-5, 6-2, in Wednesday's second round. The two have never played.
Bencic avoids opening upset against Inglis
Twenty-three-year-old Australian Maddison Inglis had previously won just one set in her career in eight previous matches against Top 50 players, and the qualifier had her sights set on an upset of No.3 seed and Tokyo gold medalist Belinda Bencic when she captured a tight opener from a break down.
However, the Swiss reset from the disappointment of losing the first set from a leading position and rallied for what was ultimately a 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 victory.
From 4-2 up in the first set, Bencic lost three straight games to the World No.130, who was bidding for a fourth victory of the week after a trio of wins to qualify for her first WTA-level main draw since July, and first on hard courts since her home-soil swing in February.
"I think the biggest adjustment I made was putting my serve in the court sometimes," Bencic, who hit 10 double faults but just one in the final set, said after the match. "I definitely had a lot of trouble with that, but I tried to stay calm, tried play every point, not think about the score and just go for it."
Bencic was a quarterfinalist in both Luxembourg and Ostrava indoors in Europe over the last two weeks, but admitted that it was difficult to adjust to the outdoor conditions against an opponent who was already in-rhythm, and one she'd never faced before.
"There's 11 months of traveling throughout the year so we can't expect to play great every match. Traveling [between] USA and Europe, indoors to outdoors, it's very difficult. The level [between players] is very near so when you're not at your best, then your opponent has a chance to win," she said.
"You definitely study them and how they play, and how their tactics are, but you don't feel how they play. It's a huge difference."
Rybakina edges Sasnovich, Kontaveit withdraws
For the second time in the span of a moment, Elena Rybakina opened a tournament with a straight-sets victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. On Aug. 30, the Kazakh defeated the Belarusian, 6-2, 6-3, in the first round of the US Open, and she picked up a 6-4, 6-4 victory in Wednesday's second round in Chicago after a first-round bye. Sasnovich won her first match against Madison Keys on Monday when the American retired with a right shoulder injury trailing, 6-4, 2-0.
Rybakina next faces No.12 seed Veronika Kudermetova, who ousted Great Britain's Harriet Dart in straights, 6-3, 6-4, with the winner to face either Bencic or Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic.
However, the six-match winning streak of Ostrava champion Anett Kontaveit was put on pause as the Estonian withdrew from her scheduled second-round match against qualifier Mai Hontama due to a left thigh injury.
"I'm sad to have to withdraw from my match today but I need to listen to my body this late in the season," the No. 11 seed said in a statement. "Thank you to the tournament for hosting us, and I wish them and the players luck the rest of the week."
Hontama, making her WTA main draw debut, advances to the third round to face either No.8 seed Bianca Andreescu or Shelby Rogers in the section of the draw that also boasts a third-round match between No.7 seed Elise Mertens and No.10 seed Danielle Collins, and in-form No.16 seed Jil Teichmann, who beat Poland's Magda Linette, 6-2, 6-4, in other second round action.