STANFORD, Calif.- It’s probably not exactly how sophomore Carol Zhao envisioned her first career WTA main draw victory, but she’ll gladly take it.
Competing in the Bank of the West Classic main draw as a qualifier, Zhao punched her ticket to the second round when Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, ranked No. 65 in the world and winner of three WTA singles titles, retired due to a viral illness one game into the second set.
That being said, Zhao had completely dominated Wickmayer up to that point. Tied 2-2 in the first set, Zhao ripped off four consecutive games to win the first set 6-2. Zhao then held serve to open the second set before Wickmayer elected to retire.
Too bad we couldn't finish the match but a W is a W. Very happy with how I played today! First WTA main draw win. You guys rock!— Carol Zhao (@CarolZhao95) July 29, 2014
Perhaps the biggest weapon for Zhao was her serve, as she managed to hold serve in all five opportunities while powering home five aces in a match that only lasted 36 minutes.
Zhao had to survive through two rounds of qualifying over the weekend just to reach the main draw, winning back-to-back three-setters against Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova and Russia’s Marina Shamayko.
Up next for the 19-year-old All-American from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, is a second-round contest on Thursday (time TBA) against Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic (ranked No. 11 in the world, tournament’s No. 5 seed). Ivanovic, who defeated Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (2), 6-1 on Tuesday, has captured 14 WTA career titles, including the 2008 French Open crown.
Zhao, who earned All-America honors after advancing to the round of 16 at the NCAA Singles Championship, enjoyed an impressive rookie campaign and was named the ITA Northwest Region Player to Watch. An All-Pac-12 Second Team pick, Zhao was awarded a final No. 22 national singles ranking after finishing 30-7 overall and 19-2 in duals, playing mainly at the No. 3 spot. She was dominant all year, with 27 of her 30 wins coming in straight sets while winning 17 consecutive matches from Jan. 19-April 12.
Upset alert at Bank of the West Classic: rising Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao takes 1st set against world's No. 65 player, Yanina Wickmayer.— Stanford Daily Sport (@StanfordSports) July 29, 2014
Stanford players enjoying recent success in the Bank of the West Classic include Nicole Gibbs, who reached the second round in each of the last two years and faced Serena Williams in 2012) and Mallory Burdette, who advanced to the second round in 2012.
Log on to www.BankoftheWestClassic.com for more information.
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 $710,000. 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 THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: Founded in 1874, $68 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, offers a wide 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 190,000 employees.
ABOUT THE EMIRATES AIRLINE US OPEN SERIES: Now in its 11th season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open. Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams won the 2013 US Open and Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles, each earning a record tennis paycheck of $3.6 million. Roger Federer (2007) and Kim Clijsters (2005) also accomplished the feat of winning the Emirates Airline US Open Series and US Open singles title within the same year.