ROME, Italy -- American qualifier Lauren Davis stunned No.11 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Ranked No.102, Davis showed her comfort on the courts at the Foro Italico to out-steady the 2017 Roland Garros champion to tally her first Top 20 win of the season.
Davis' upset win sparked a string of early wins for the American contingent on Day 2 at the Foro Italico, where No.11 Jessica Pegula, No.32 Amanda Anisimova, and lucky loser Madison Brengle all advanced to the second round.
Davis did well to keep the pressure on Ostapenko's serve throughout the match, generating 11 break points and breaking six times. Ostapenko's return game never hit full flow against Davis' attachable serve. Serving at just 47% in the match, the 28-year-old American won 86% of her first-serve points and 46% of her second-serve points. In contrast, Ostapenko win just over 50% of her first-serve point and struggled to protect her second serve, winning just 30%.
Davis jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead in the opening set and closed it out after just 33 minutes. Ostapenko did better in the second set, breaking to level the set at 3-all, but her serving woes continued to do her in. Davis broke twice more from there to seal the win after 71 minutes.
Stat of the match: Davis hit seven unforced errors for the match. While the American hit just 11 winners against the big-hitting Latvian, Ostapenko struggled to find her range, hitting 18 winners to 24 unforced errors.
Into the second round in Rome for just the second time in her career, Davis will face No.17 Elena Rybakina. The loss drops Ostapenko to 0-5 since winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and making the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open in February.
Pegula rides Madrid momentum to edge Samsonova
Fresh off her run to her first WTA 1000 final last week at the Mutua Madrid Open, No.11 Pegula overcame a tough test against Stuttgart semifinalist Liudmila Samsonova. Playing with visible taping on her upper left leg, Pegula rallied from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to seal the win after 2 hours and 16 minutes. The victory is Pegula's 29th at the WTA 1000 level since the start of 2021, tying No.1 Iga Swiatek for the most WTA 1000 wins over that span.
In a high-quality duel, Pegula withstood the offensive barrage from Samsonova, who fired nine aces in the match to finish with 38 winners to 36 unforced errors. Pegula found herself in a counter-punching position often, but hit back successfully, notching 24 winners to 20 unforced errors.
A quarterfinalist in Rome last year, Pegula will face Anhelina Kalinina in the second round. The Ukrainian scored a 6-4, 6-4 win over Madison Keys on Monday evening.
Anisimova to face Bencic in second-round showcase
No.32 Anisimova came through a tough final set to defeat Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova 6-2, 0-6, 6-4. After winning the opening set, Anisimova proceeded to drop seven consecutive games to find herself behind 0-1 in the decider. But she steadied herself to remain level at 3-3 and then broke to 4-3. After saving two break points in her next service game, Anisimova coolly closed out the match after 2 hours and 8 minutes.
The victory sets up a marquee match-up against No.12 seed Belinda Bencic in the next round.
"After the match I saw [Bencic] and I was talking to her and I was like, 'Good luck tomorrow!'," Anisimova said. "Then I realized that I'm playing her. I played her in Australia and she's a really good player. I'm sure we'll have another good match. We always play very well against each other so I'm looking forward to it."
A semifinalist at the 2019 French Open, Anisimova's powerful baseline game has already earned her a semifinal appearance in Charleston and she comes into Rome off the heels of a quarterfinal run in Madrid.
Continuing the early run for the Americans, Madison Brengle made good on her lucky loser position, defeating Ukrainian qualifier Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-3. Brengle took her spot in the main draw after Denmark's Clara Tauson withdrew with a lower back injury and will next face No.15 seed Coco Gauff.