Day 1 of main draw play is a wrap. Sloane Stephens and Nicole Gibbs impressed the most. Stephens beat Tamira Paszek, 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour, while qualifying wild card entrant Nicole Gibbs gave tournament organizers something to be proud of as she rolled over Muguruza into retirement, 6-1, 1-0. Gibbsy didn’t drop a set all weekend en route to the main draw entrance. The late sentence reads that Bartoli also looked powerful and precise en route to dispatching Olympic Silver medalist Laura Robson 6-3, 6-3.
Melanie Oudin’s play looked suspect yesterday in her comeback win, but today the slow start came back to haunt her. American Alexa Glatch moved on to the main draw. This is not the tennis she’d like to be playing this close to the US Open. Luckily(?), she’ll get a do-over tomorrow as a Lucky Loser. Who knows? She could go ballistic on the main draw. Tune in tomorrow and find out which Oudin takes the court aginst Sofia Arvidsson.
Tomorrow is also a trophy day at Yale. US Open National Playoff winners will be crowned and they win the right to enter the qualifiers at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday. Later in the week, mixed doubles teams will square off here for the right to enter the main draw in New York. I played in the Mid-Atlantic Mixed Doubles and lost to the eventual sectional champions, Sophia Abelson and Pjotrs Necajevs. They’ll be playing later in the week. Go Team Detroit!
NEW HAVEN OPEN AT YALE PRESENTED BY FIRST NIAGARA – NEW HAVEN, USA
AUGUST 17 – AUGUST 25, 2012
RESULTS – AUGUST 19, 2012
Women’s Singles – First Round
 M Bartoli (FRA) d [WC] L Robson (GBR) 63 63
 L Safarova (CZE) d V Lepchenko (USA) 63 41 Retired
S Stephens (USA) d T Paszek (AUT) 63 61
C Suarez Navarro (ESP) d A Szavay (HUN) 76(3) 64
Women’s Qualifying Singles -
Qualifying -T Babos (HUN) d [WC] S Vickery (USA) 26 64 64
Qualifying – O Govortsova (BLR) d V Dushevina (RUS) 57 62 75
Qualifying – [WC] N Gibbs (USA) d G Muguruza (ESP) 62 10 Retired
Qualifying – A Glatch (USA) d M Oudin (USA) 60 62
ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, AUGUST 20, 2012
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
[WC] B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs  S Errani (ITA) – WTA
S Peer (ISR) vs  M Kirilenko (RUS) – WTA
[Q] T Babos (HUN) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs E Makarova (RUS) – WTA
 L Huber (USA) / L Raymond (USA) vs V Dushevina (RUS) / O Govortsova (BLR) – WTA
GRANDSTAND start 12:00 noon
[LL] M Oudin (USA) vs S Arvidsson (SWE) – WTA
D Hantuchova (SVK) vs M Barthel (GER) – WTA
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs  D Cibulkova (SVK) – WTA
COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
[Q] N Gibbs (USA) vs [Q] A Glatch (USA) – WTA
K Date-Krumm (JPN) / A Szavay (HUN) vs L Lee-Waters (USA) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) – WTA
[LL] V Dushevina (RUS) vs [Q] O Govortsova (BLR) – WTA
N Grandin (RSA) / V Uhlirova (CZE) vs C Chuang (TPE) / S Peer (ISR) – WTA – After Suitable Rest
COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
 M Hibi (JPN) or M Weatherholt (USA) vs  S Roma (SWE) or  A Mueller (USA) – USONP Women
C Reix (FRA) vs N Meister (USA) – USONP Men
COURT 4 start 12:00 noon
A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) vs A Amanmuradova (UZB) / K Bondarenko (UKR) – WTA
Last Monday, I arrived at Marion Bartoli’s Family Circle Cup presser table in Charleston late into the game. All of the good questions about her 7 WTA titles, the Olympics, and her family had already been asked. By the time I got a seat and had her attention, everyone else had moved on to Serena Williams behind her.
I didn’t want her to recite all the same answers again, so it was time to improvise. I remembered that she’d briefly mentioned in Brisbane that if she wasn’t playing tennis, she’d be the Prime Minister of France. So I struck up a conversation about politics. That’s right. I asked the only player to beat world #1 Vika Azarenka this year if she loved politics.
I do love politics. I’m really right now into the election for the President and I’m really following it. That’s something that I love. You see, I’m a tennis player, so I won’t be a Prime Minister, but I think it would certainly be nice to have some women out there.
Could I get her to give me any indication on who is nabbing her ballot in May’s Presidential Election in France? Bonne Chance! Since she’d mentioned women in politics, I asked if she’d supported Segolene Royal, who ran for President againt Nikolas Sarkozy in the last election. She immediately backed away from being brought into the fray like a veteran political operator handling the press.
My opinions are just for myself, but I really like the politics and I like to be involved with what’s going on, and I think it’s important to have a clue about everything that’s going on around you, not only tennis-wise, and I really like to follow it.
In a final attempt to get her to tip her hand on her political views, I asked whether she supported the traditional system of worker protection and valuing public educators for which the Republic is famous. That tradition has been challenged in recent years, most notably by President Sarkozy. She gave a very polished and centrist answer, leaving me no more likely to tell who she likes in May.
I think the French system is very much an example for a country. So, we get our problems. It costs a lot of money, so it’s not easy. I think to protect and help the other ones, it’s a great way.
She’s intelligent, a national celebrity, a tennis champion and she’s only 27 years old. While I appreciate her humility that somehow she couldn’t become Prime Minister as an athlete, I disagree. Incumbents are getting tossed out in record numbers. Voters want fresh faces all over the world. And between the WTA tour and the French press corps, she knows more about the rigors of the political process than most. It would not be out of the question to say that her energy and passion may ultimately lead her to the Élysée Palace.
The French Presidential Election Run-Off is May 6. Bartoli’s next appearance will be in Stuttgart on or about April 25.
It wasn’t easy, but Marion Bartoli is through to the round of 16 in Charleston, beating Vera Dushevina. Bartoli, who had a 1st round bye for the last five straight years at the Family Circle Cup, outlasted the Russian 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in 3:04:08. Bartoli was defeated by Sabine Lisicki at last year’s Family Circle Cup, and lost to Shuai Peng in the opener in 2010. Her Charleston journey has gone as far as the semifinals in 2009. She will face Polona Hercog in the sweet 16.
We asked Marion a few questions about politics on Monday and we’ll show you that later.
Seven of the women playing today in the Sony Ericsson Sweet 16 are headed to Charleston next week for the Family Circle Cup. Of the Charleston top seeds, only Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic and Julia Goerges have been eliminated from contention in Miami. Zvonareva looked terrible in a career-low loss to Muguruza-Blanco and Jankovic lost to Mona Barthel last week after having been bounced from Indian Wells two weeks earlier by Jamie Hampton. At least Julia Goerges doesn’t have to hang her head low after suffering defeat from Kim Clijsters in Key Biscayne. Based on their most recent past performances, we’re definitely not picking Bepa or Jelena in our Family Circle Cup bracket.
It’s early, but I’d look for a Sony Ericsson semi-finalist to win it all in Charleston. Too often the winner (or finalist) of a two-week tournament is too weakened to make another run to raise a second consecutive trophy.
Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli and Agnieszka Radwanska should all be able to make deep runs at Charleston given their recent play. Our wild card will be Yanina Wickmayer. She’s had her ups and downs of late, but it is good to see her playing in the second week of a tournament for the first time in a long time. Besides, she could put those 470 WTA points for the winner to the best use of all the contenders.
The main draw selection show for Family Circle Cup will be covered at this site and tweeted @TennisEastCoast next Saturday from 3:00 p.m. EDT on the Grand Lawn of the Family Circle Tennis Center.