It is quarterfinal Friday at the inaugural ATX Open, and for eight players, three wins are all that stand in the way of the coveted Austin trophy. The excitement is palpable. Which match are you looking forward to most?
In the first quarterfinal of the day, the veteran Anna Lena Friedsam will take on 20-year-old Marta Kostyuk. Youth versus experience. Vicious versus variety. After her last match, Friedsam expressed her jubilation at the opportunity to play in a quarterfinal in Austin, while Kostyuk hinted at her invincibility if she stays aggressive. In their only previous meeting, Kostyuk won in straight sets. Be there to see if the tides will turn in Texas?
It has already been a breakout week for 21-year-olds Peyton Stearns and Katie Volynets as each is seeking her first WTA semifinal after reaching the quarterfinals at a Tour event for the first time. Stearns, the 2022 NCAA singles champion who led UT to a pair of team national championships, earned her first WTA match win on Monday. She has a combined 18-2 record in professional matches this season. Volynets reached this round in dramatic fashion, saving a match point when trailing 0-5 in the third set before winning seven straight games against the No. 3 seed Anastasia Potapova Wednesday.
FIRE AND ICE
Anna Kalinskaya faces Danielle Collins in a contest of contrasting on-court personalities. Kalinskaya, who is prone to keep her emotions tightly veiled, will look to avenge her three set Australian Open loss to Collins, who gladly lets you know exactly how she is feeling. For both players, a season-first semifinal is on the line.
After what Sloane Stephens described as the worst on-court loss of her career in Merida, Mexico, last week, her bounce back has been quick and convincing. She is yet to lose a set and seems to be swinging freely in front of her adoring Austin fans. Varvara Gracheva, on the other hand has gone the distance in both of her matches, but her focus has been squarely and gratefully on the fact that she is still here. She did not expect to stun No. 1 Magda Linette or dig out of trouble against Anna Blinkova, and now she stands one surprise away from a semifinal appearance.