Alison Riske was among the seven Americans who advanced into the second round in Birmingham.
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By McCarton Ackerman, USTA.com
The American women competing at the WTA event in Birmingham, England, went a perfect 8-0 in first-round matches and won one of the handful of second round matches to be completed so far. Madison Keys, Alison Riske and CoCo Vandweghe are among the players who moved through.
Vandeweghe is leading the charge in Birmingham so far, defeating Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan on Monday, 6-4, 7-5, before prevailing on Tuesday against Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, 5-7. 7-5. 6-1. This matches Vandeweghe's best result at a WTA event this year. The 22-year-old also reached the third round of the Sony Open in Miami.
No. 11 seed Keys had little trouble in her opening round, dispatching Teliana Pereira of Brazil, 6-3, 6-3. The talented teenager is a player to watch on the grass this year, having reached the quarterfinals of Birmingham and the third round of Wimbledon last year.
No. 15 seed Riske squeaked through a tough first set before easing through her first round against qualifier Lyudmila Kichenok of Ukraine, 7-6 (3), 6-3. The grass-court specialist has excelled in Birmingham before, reaching the semifinals in both 2010 and 2013, and also advancing to the third round of Wimbledon last year. Since last year’s grass-court season, Riske’s ranking has soared from No. 171 to a career-high of No. 40.
Qualifier Victoria Duval posted one of the biggest opening round upsets in her debut grass-court tournament as a professional, defeating No. 13 seed Caroline Garcia of France, 6-2, 6-4. In the last 12 months, the teenager’s ranking has jumped more than 150 spots to her current career-high of No. 127.
Lauren Davis also posted an impressive first-round win by fighting through former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Tamira Paszek of Austria, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Varvara Lepchenko won the final eight games in her match against Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, easily moving into the second round, 6-4, 6-0. Christina McHale rounded out the perfect run for the Americans by defeating Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the first round, 6-2, 6-4.
Irina Falconi also advanced through qualifying in Birmingham, but was forced to withdraw before her opening-round match in the main draw due to injury. No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens received a bye in the first round and will play her first match on Wednesday.