Qualifying Day 1: Riske Rolls On

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by Nicholas McCarvel

American Alison Riske didn’t do it the easy way Friday, but a win is a win for the 23-year-old, who is looking for her first-ever appearance in the main draw of the New Haven Open at Yale.

MORE: Main Draw Preview | Lisicki Arrives in New Haven | Qualifying Draw

Riske overcame veteran Eleni Daniilidou 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 in the first round of qualifying, moving within two matches of the main draw.

The Pennsylvania native made the third round of Wimbledon, marking her first-ever wins at a major in six appearances.

It was a three-set kind of day as 12 of the 24 opening-round matches went the distance, including No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina‘s 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 effort over Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino.

No. 2 seed Monica Niculescu was forced to quit her match due to injury, one of four matches ended because of retirement. Heather Watson, the Brit, also retired, sending Anna Schmiedlova into round two.

Other recognizable winners included Anabel Medina Garrigues, the former top 20 player from Spain, No. 6 seed Monica Puig, who shocked Sara Errani (the top seed at this tournament) in the first round of Wimbledon this year, Caroline Garcia, the hard-hitting French youngster, Tsvetana Pironkova, a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist and Yanina Wickmayer, who won the final match of the day with little sunlight to spare.

Flavia Pennetta, the Italian who has been as high as No. 10 in the world, continued her comeback to tennis after a long layoff. She made the fourth round of Wimbledon.

Niculescu wasn’t the only seed to fall as No. 12 seed Johanna Larsson, No. 13 Silvia Soler-Espinosa and No. 8 Lourdes Dominguez Lino all lost.

Dominguez Lino was taken out by Yaroslava Shvedova, the doubles specialist who was a quarterfinalist at the French Open and ranked as high as No. 25 last year.

Riske is joined in the second round of qualifying by fellow American Alexandra Mueller, who beat Polona Hercog when the Slovenian retired trailing 6-1, 3-1.

Mueller was the winner of the U.S. Open National Playoffs Championships both last year and in 2010. The Playoffs once again are finishing up at the Connecticut Tennis Center this week, running through Monday. The men’s and women’s winners will receive a wild card into U.S. Open qualifying.

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