Playing her first match on clay in almost a year, Jelena Jankovic felt right at home on Daniel Island. Making her 13th career appearance in Charleston after missing the tournament last year, Jankovic won the first seven games, breaking serve six times, to take control of her match against Ekaterina Alexandrova in a 6-0, 6-4 victory Monday on the first round of the Volvo Car Open. The Russian arrived in Charleston on a 10-match winning streak on the ITF Circuit, which had boosted her to a career-high ranking of No.86.
“I didn’t really know her game, I had never really seen her play,” said Jankovic, a winner here a decade ago. “At times she was putting me under pressure, and sometimes it’s not easy to get out of that.”
The victory sends Jankovic to a second-round matchup against Samantha Stosur in what will be their 10th head-to-head meeting. Jankovic leads the Australian 7-2 overall. The match will be their third straight on clay.
The Volvo Car Open lost No. 2 seed Johanna Konta, who withdrew because of injury. The Australian-born Briton was coming off the biggest title of her 11-year career, a victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the Miami Open final on Saturday that moved her to No. 7 in the rankings.
“I’m very sorry to have to withdraw from Charleston. This is a great tournament and I was really looking forward to taking part,” Konta said. “I was battling a slight shoulder injury and sickness during Miami, which has taken hold since the end of the tournament.”
Konta was replaced by lucky loser Grace Min of the United States.
In another first-round match, Alison Riske defeated fellow American Kayla Day 7-5, 4-6, 6-0. Riske closed with a dominant third set, taking advantage of three double-faults and saving two break points. Day converted just two of 13 second serves in the decisive set on the green clay.
Elsewhere: Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine defeated Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 6-4, 7-5; German Laura Siegemund defeated Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (4) in a grueling match that lasted nearly 3 hours, 19 minutes; and Monica Puig of Puerto Rico was up 4-6, 6-2, 4-1 when Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic retired with a back injury that brought her to tears.
“She was definitely holding, clutching her back a little bit there in the second set, so I was obviously a little bit aware something was going on,” Puig said. “I had to try and keep focus because sometimes when a player is feeling a little bit of discomfort, they start hitting the ball hard, going for their shots a little more. I had to really focus and pay attention.”
Joining Puig in the second round will be Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who rallied for her first career main draw win in Charleston after dropping the first set against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
Also, Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia topped Ana Bogdan of Romania 6-4, 6-2; Ons Jabeur of Tunisia defeated Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 6-4, 6-1; and Germany’s Andrea Petkovic beat Lara Arruabarrena of Spain 7-5, 6-2.