No.1 seed Jessica Pegula and former champion Madison Keys led five Americans into the Round of 16 on home soil at the Credit One Charleston Open on Wednesday.
Pegula, the World No.3, breezed through her first match of the week with a 6-2, 6-0 win over 63rd-ranked Anna Blinkova in just 64 minutes.
"I used to train here for a couple years, I grew up in Hilton Head, so I know I lot of people came to watch me," Pegula said on court, after her win. "This was kind of like my childhood and where I learned to really play tennis, so it’s really special.
"I think you just have a little bit more time to be creative [on the clay], and I’ve gotten a lot better at that throughout my career. Before, I would probably say I was better on hard court, but I think my game translates really well to clay. I’m getting better with my feel and my touch shots, I like a good drop shot."
In the first meeting between the pair, it was Pegula who dominated with hefty returns, winning 70 percent of points when sending back the Blinkova second service. Pegula converted six of her 10 break points to prevail.
Pegula is now into the Round of 16 in Charleston for the fourth time in her five career main-draw appearances, but she has yet to progress beyond this round.
Pegula's next opponent will be No.15 seed Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, who thwarted an all-American meeting by toppling 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-4. Begu reached three consecutive Charleston quarterfinals from 2015 to 2017.
No.9 seed Keys, who won the Charleston title in 2019 and was also a finalist in 2015, joined Pegula in the Round of 16 with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over her fellow American Hailey Baptiste.
Baptiste, a qualifier this week, had shocked Keys in their only previous meeting at 2019 Washington D.C. However, Keys leveled their head-to-head on Wednesday by avenging that loss in just 1 hour and 9 minutes. Keys saved all six of the break points she faced in the match.
A victory in the next round would be Keys's 20th match-win at the Credit One Charleston Open in her career, and it would mark her fifth quarterfinal-or-better showing at the tournament. Her next match will be against No.8 seed Magda Linette.
Three more Americans also advanced to the Round of 16 on Day 3. Wildcard Caroline Dolehide surprised Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, and Bernarda Pera eased past Cristina Bucsa 6-3, 6-4.
Finally, hometown hero Shelby Rogers pulled off a comeback win over fellow American Caty McNally in the night session to reach the Round of 16. McNally led 7-6, 5-3 before Charleston native Rogers reeled off 10 of the next 11 games to collect a 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-1 victory.