SAN DIEGO, October 9, 2022 (by Richard Osborne)
With six main-draw slots up for grabs at the San Diego Open WTA 500, the qualifying rounds got underway on Saturday at Barnes Tennis Center.
A last-minute replacement for top seed Liudmila Samsonova, alternate Ellen Perez of Australia is making the most of her opportunity. Perez was at her hotel when she got word that Samsonova was replacing Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the main draw, and that the resulting qualifying vacancy was hers. The 26-year-old lefthander didn’t have much time to prepare, but still managed to race past Varvara Flink, 6-1, 6-1, in just 54 minutes.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster — I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it in time for the match,” said Perez, who is also in the doubles draw. “I got the call at the last second that I was actually in. To get out there and put on a solid performance without a good warm-up, I was really happy. I thought I played at a high level.”
China’s Qinwen Zheng continues her rankings climb. She arrived in San Diego at a career-high No. 28 after reaching her first WTA final in Tokyo, where she dismissed the likes of Paula Badosa and Veronika Kudermetova. Earlier this year, she defeated former No. 1 Simona Halep en route to the Round of 16 at Roland Garros.
On Saturday, Zheng celebrated her 20th birthday with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 performance against Canada’s Rebecca Marino.
“It’s special. I didn’t expect to arrive this fast at 20 years old,” said Zheng, who finished with nine aces and saved both break-points she faced in the hour-long matchup. “There are always a lot of Chinese fans supporting me. I’m always so thankful for it, bringing their energy for me. That gives me a lot of courage to play better.”
Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann, who has posted seven Top-20 wins in 2022, including an upset of world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit this summer in Toronto, advanced via a 6-1, 7-6 (2) decision over Canada’s Carol Zhao.
A pair of Americans scored upsets: Lauren Davis upended seven-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 6-2, while Robin Montgomery topped China’s Shuai Zhang, 6-2, 6-3.
Anna Kalinskaya defeated former UVA standout Emma Navarro, the 2021 NCAA singles titlist, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Navarro was playing in familiar territory, having reached the singles final of the Girls’ 18s National Championships at Barnes Tennis Center in 2019.
Caroline Dolehide prevailed in an all-American showdown with Madison Brengle, 7-6 (5), 7-5. Also advancing on Saturday were: Croatia’s Donna Vekic (def. Elizabeth Mandlik, 6-4, 6-3), and Colombia’s Camila Osorio (def. Madison Sieg, 6-1, 6-2).
Results – Saturday, Oct 8
Q1 – [ALT] E. Perez (AUS) d. V. Flink 61 61
Q1 –  A. Kalinskaya d. E. Navarro (USA) 64 76(3)
Q1 – [WC] R. Montgomery (USA) d.  S. Zhang (CHN) 62 63
Q1 –  B. Pera (USA) d. E. Cocciaretto (ITA) 76(3) 63
Q1 –  Q. Zheng (CHN) d. R. Marino (CAN) 61 61
Q1 –  C. Osorio (COL) d. [WC] M. Sieg (USA) 61 62
Q1 – [WC] A. Krueger (USA) d.  A. Sasnovich 61 16 62
Q1 – [WC] L. Chirico (USA) d.  Y. Putintseva (KAZ) 75 16 64
Q1 – L. Davis (USA) d.  K. Kanepi (EST) 63 62
Q1 –  D. Vekic (CRO) d. E. Mandlik (USA) 64 63
Q1 –  J. Teichmann (SUI) d. C. Zhao (CAN) 61 76(2)
Q1 – C. Dolehide (USA) d.  M. Brengle (USA) 76(5) 75