STANFORD, Calif.- Displaying her trademark poise and execution while competing in a familiar setting, there was not much stopping Nicole Gibbs on Monday night.
Competing on the same court in which she posted a 56-5 career record at the college level, Gibbs cruised past Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round of the Bank of the West Classic.
After a back-and-forth first set, Gibbs used the home court advantage in her favor. Trailing 4-3 in the first frame, Gibbs ripped off eight consecutive games spanning both sets before Bertens finally salvaged a game to make it 5-1.
“I was feeling a little nervous out there, knowing that I needed to capitalize on a pretty big opportunity late in the first set," said Gibbs. "The crowd really lifted me up and kept me going, and probably bothered her a little bit, too. So it was kind of a dual threat from the crowd and really made for an awesome atmosphere. The most vocal fans in the crowd are members of the Stanford football team, and they are trusted friends from the three years I played here and came out to all our matches.
An All-American in singles during each of her three seasons, Gibbs collected her fourth career singles title when she became the NCAA's first repeat champion back in May. The first player to capture NCAA team and singles titles in the same year since Duke's Mallory Cecil in 2009, Gibbs wrapped up her career with a 111-15 overall record (65-6 in dual play). After winning this year’s NCAA title, Gibbs decided to forego her senior season and turn pro. The decision has already paid off, with Gibbs capturing the Yakima Regional Challenger Title ($50K ITF) last weekend.
“Each week and each match presents different challenges and opportunities," said Gibbs. "For me, there are going to be ups and downs. But if I can just put myself out there and in the best place to win each week, the average over time is going to be pretty good. Getting out there and fighting is my main objective, no matter if it’s a challenger or WTA event. Bringing the same intensity and ambition to the court each time I come to play.”
Meanwhile, Mallory Burdette suffered a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 loss to Francesca Schiavone in her first round match. In a battle of two powerful hitters, the 2010 French Open champion was able to find an extra gear and take control after Burdette jumped out to early leads in both sets.
Burdette, who entered the tournament ranked No. 76 in the world, raced out to a 4-2 advantage in the first set. Schiavone then ripped off three straight games to take a 5-4 lead before Burdette held serve at 5-5. Schiavone proceeded to close out the final two games.
Trailing 2-1 in the second set, Burdette responded with back-to-back games and grabbed a 3-2 lead. However, Schiavone responded by winning four games in a row and taking the set 6-3.
Burdette earned her first WTA victory in the Bank of the West Classic last year, defeating Anne Keothavong before falling to 2013 Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli in the second round. She went on to win two tournaments and reached the third round of the U.S. Open, losing to world No. 3 Maria Sharapova, which convinced her to forego her senior year and turn professional. Burdette posted a 104-22 overall record (60-8 in dual play) in three seasons at Stanford and helped lead the Cardinal to the 2010 NCAA title.
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-by Brian Risso, Athletic Communications/Media Relations
ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the Emirates Airline US Open Series. Owned and operated by IMG, the WTA Premier event features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $795,000. Held on Stanford University’s campus at Taube Family Tennis Stadium since 1997, former champions include: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.
ABOUT BANK OF THE WEST: Founded in 1874, $62 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a full range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.
ABOUT IMG: IMG Worldwide is a global sports, entertainment and media business, with nearly 3,000 employees operating in 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging: IMG College; IMG’s Joint Ventures in China, Brazil and India; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academies; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing. More information is available at www.imgworld.com.