WASHINGTON, D.C. – After dropping a bagel on Valentini Grammatikopoulou in the first set, Canadian Rebecca Marino was rolling in her first-round qualifying match at the Citi Open.
It got a little complicated in the middle. But in the end, Marino pulled it out 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 and moves onto the final round.
She’ll face veteran American Sachia Vickery.
Here are a few highlights.
New coach on trial
Since Roland Garros, Marino has started to get some financial support from Tennis Canada – you can see the patch on her top.
And that means she has been able to get some help, as she continues to climb up the ladder.
With her in Washington is veteran coach Bruno Echagaray, a 39-year-old who played in the pros for a decade in the aughts.
He has plenty of experience with Canadians; Echagary has worked with Stéphanie Dubois and Françoise Abanda in the past.
The trial is for D.C. and Toronto, and perhaps Vancouver, said Echagaray, who also was with Marino last week during a Tennis Canada training camp in Montreal for the women.
With the women allowed the coaching from the sidelines now that they’re not at a major, Echagaray was able to drop some nuggets of wisdom on his charge when things got a little tighter in the second set.
Big strengths: second serve – and second-serve return
It was sort of inevitable that Grammatikopoulou was going to pick up her level in the second set.
That, or she would have suffered the same fate as the first.
She did, and Marino took the foot off the gas just a little bit.
But the 31-year-old Canadian reset well in the third.
The Canadian varied her second serve well, with a little kick doing wonders against a vertically-challenged opponent.
But the thing that stood out the most was her defence.
It’s not ever going to be a strength. But it’s much improved and Marino is chasing down a lot more balls in the corners, using a forehand slice to get some of them back.
And on this day in particular, she was rewarded the vast majority of the time that she did make the effort to get to one more ball.
Which has to be encouraging.
Old rival is new again
Marino and Vickery, 27, are no strangers to each other.
But it’s been so long since they’ve met, they might well have to re-introduce themselves.
Vickery took took care of a local, Baltimore’s Sophie Chang, No. 237 in singles but No. 80 in doubles after an unexpected and invigorating win a week ago in Hamburg with Angela Kulikov (who was making her WTA-level debut).
It was 7-6 (4), 6-1. Close to start, and then Vickery ran away with it.
The match will take place around noon on Sunday.
The options for the winner, as a qualifier in the draw are all challenging in their own way – and all very different from each other.
–Venus Williams (that would be played Monday)
–No. 3 seed Simona Halep
–Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria.