Cup Choices: Tuesday, April 1
By: Nicholas McCarvel
You don’t need to wait until the weekend to see a blockbuster at the movie theater: Tuesday the Family Circle Cup serves up a blockbuster line-up all day (and night) long.
Both Venus and Serena Williams take to the court for their opening matches while former champions Sam Stosur and Nadia Petrova are also in action.
But before Venus can get on court, Charleston fans will be served an enthralling start to their day as local hope Shelby Rogers (pictured above) takes on veteran Daniela Hantuchova in the first match on Billie Jean King Stadium Court. It’s their first-ever meeting.
Rogers, 21, has continued to improve on the WTA Tour, qualifying for two out of the four Grand Slams last year and knocking on the door of the top 100. Venus’ match will follow the Rogers-Hantuchova encounter.
Winner here 10 years ago, Williams comes in as the No. 11 seed and will meet journeywoman Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic. Williams, playing her seventh Family Circle Cup, has faced Zahlavova Strycova just once before, Venus winning in straight sets on clay in 2009.
Stadium Court will also feature Sam Stosur, who is third on and gets the always-touch Yaroslava Shvedova, a two-time French Open quarterfinalist. It’s Stosur who reached the final in Paris in 2010 and was the winner here that same year.
Stosur and Shvedova have faced off just once, Yaroslava winning that match in 2009 in Rome.
It’s three-time champion Serena who will headline the evening session, set to play at 7 pm against Jana Cepelova. Williams is looking for her third straight (and fourth overall) win in Charleston, a tournament she has come to love.
The top seed and world No. 1 is coming off a record seventh win in Miami. A year ago here she beat sister Venus in the semifinals before holding off fellow former champion Jelena Jankovic in a three-set final. Venus and Serena cannot meet until the final at this year’s Cup.
Fans will have plenty to keep them busy on the outside courts on Tuesday, including 2006 winner Petrova’s opener against the gritty New Zealander Marina Erakovic. They play third on Court 3.
On Althea Gibson Court, fan favorite Andrea Petkovic plays the second match of the day against qualifier Lesia Tsurenko. Petkovic made her Charleston debut a year ago and lost in the third round.
No. 8 seed Sorana Cirstea, a former French Open quarterfinalist, is third on Althea Gibson, taking on Teliana Pereira in a second-round match. Cirstea got a bye, as did all eight of the top seeds.
And doubles fans should bring their popcorn for this one: Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, longtime doubles partners who have reconnected just recently, take on Petkovic and Jankovic, two singles specialists who are a joy to watch (and provide a few good-hearted laughs) on the doubles court.