For the first time since 2017, American Louisa Chirico won a WTA-level main-draw match thanks to a stirring comeback against compatriot Alison Riske-Amtritraj on Monday at the San Diego Open.
The 26-year-old New Jersey native was promising as a teenager, and burst onto the scene in 2016 by reaching the semifinals of the WTA 1000 Mutua Madrid Open as a qualifier at age 19; she peaked at a career-high ranking of No. 58 later that year before a career-threatening shoulder injury took her out of the game for 18 months.
Into the main draw at this week's West Coast WTA 500 event as a qualifier, Chirico again had a statement result as a qualifier: Trailing her higher-ranked compatriot 6-1, 4-0, and later by a break in the third set, the now-World No.196 scored one of the comebacks of the season, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(5). She also trailed 0-40 on serve at 4-4 in the final set, but held on.
Riske served for the match just once, at 5-4 in the second set, and never reached match point.
Chirico's last WTA main-draw win came on the clay courts of Gstaad, Switzerland five years ago, and her reward for the 2 hour, 53-minute marathon effort is a date with No.2 seed Paula Badosa.
Keys cruises, Vandeweghe rallies past Kenin
Also five years ago, Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe squared off in an all-American semifinal at the US Open that was eventually won by Keys. To reach Round 2 at the San Diego Open, they had contrasting opening wins.
Keys largely cruised in a 6-1, 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Ellen Perez, while Vandeweghe scored her first tour-level win since June in a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 win over another American, 2020 Australian Open Sofia Kenin.
The unseeded Keys lost her last three matches dating back to a Round 3 loss to Coco Gauff at the US Open, but now awaits either No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina or 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, while Vandeweghe will be No.4 seed Jessica Pegula's first opponent.
Ironically enough, Pegula was Vandeweghe's last tour-level main-draw win: The former Top 10 player beat then-World No.13 Pegula at the Credit One Charleston Open.