QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - No.8 seed Samantha Crawford survived a spirited challenge from Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure, edging through to advance 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in the opening round of the Coupe Banque Nationale.
"I don't know how many match points I had in that second set, but I know I had a few," Crawford said after the match. "After losing the second set, I just wanted to not think about that. I was just trying to stay calm and stay in the present."
After narrowly escaping with a tight first set - Crawford and Bonaventure traded breaks and wrestled with the momentum in the tiebreak - the American found herself holding match points after a couple of loose serves from Bonaventure. The Belgian fought her off twice to hold serve and send the match to another tiebreaker, where this time Bonaventure came out on top to even the scoreline. Some strong serving in the third set gave Crawford the edge, and the American took her third match point to advance to the second round.
Earlier this year, Crawford turned heads when she made it through qualifying at the Brisbane International to reach the semifinals, upsetting Belinda Bencic and Andrea Petkovic along the way. But it was in Québec City that the American announced her presence to the WTA, reaching the quarterfinals of the event last year after making it out of the qualifying rounds.
"We never played each other before, so I think it took a while for both of us to get used to each other's game, and I just stayed more consistent."
Aside from a tough opponent, Bellis also had to contend with the surface: being an indoor tournament staged on carpet, Québec is home to some of the fastest hardcourts anywhere on the tour.
"I had never played on this surface before," Bellis said. "I think maybe a long time ago, but I liked it. I think it's different, but I liked it a lot."
A handful of fellow Americans are joining Bellis and Crawford in the second round after Jessica Pegula, Julia Boserup, and qualifier Lauren Davis all advanced. American qualifier Danielle Lao scored the day's big upset by ousting 2014 champion Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the No.3 seed, in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.