By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
Washington area natives Frances Tiafoe and Hailey Baptiste were among the Day Two winners Tuesday, taking advantage of favorable conditions and plenty of hometown support.
Tiafoe defeated Alexander Bublik 6-1, 7-6 on Stadium Court as he advanced to the third round for the second straight year. Tiafoe will next face No.3 seed Daniil Medvedev who beat American wild card Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 6-4.
Baptiste brought the fans on a packed Grandstand to their feet as she pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the tournament so far, dispatching No.2 seed Madison Keys 7-6, 6-2 for her first career WTA main draw win.
“Half of the match, I couldn’t even feel my legs,” said Baptiste, a 17-year-old wild card, who grew up blocks away from the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Northwest D.C.
“I really can’t describe what it felt like. But it was amazing, having everybody in the crowd cheering for me. I knew every other person in the crowd, so it felt really good.”
Within hours of Baptiste earning her first career WTA win, fellow teenage wild card Catherine McNally did the same as she defeated Lin Zhu of China in straight sets before another supportive crowd.
The stands were also filled to capacity on John Harris Court where a standing-room only crowd watched Zarina Diyas defeat 15-year-old Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2.
Despite falling in the first round of the main draw, Gauff has much to be pleased with after winning a pair of qualifying matches over the weekend, and helping create a palpable buzz early this week on the grounds of Rock Creek Park. The crowd support, she said, was especially gratifying.
“Honestly, I knew that would get a little more support, but I didn’t think it would be as much,” she said. “After Wimbledon, a couple of weeks have gone by, I thought it would settle down a little bit. People were excited, but I guess people are still excited. I’m happy for that. I’m happy I was given this opportunity to play in front of a big crowd and to play in my home country.”
Diyas will next face No.5 seed Lesia Tsurenko in the Round of 16 Thursday. The top quarter of the draw is wide open after Rebecca Peterson upset No.1 seed Sloane Stephens in straight sets in the first match of the day on Stadium Court.
The upsets weren’t limited to the WTA draw, as ATP Tour veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga outlasted No.2 seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 on Stadium Court.
The nightcap on Stadium Court saw Nick Kyrgios wow the crowd with some terrific shot making as he beat University of Virginia alum Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 7-5, 6-4.
Other winners in the men’s draw included No.6 Marin Cilic and No.13 Kyle Edmond, who earned his 100th career ATP World Tour victory.