Some of the first round action at the 2021 WTA Charleston Open will see Francesca Di Lorenzo face Kurumi Nara and Storm Sanders take on Asia Muhammad. Get the live streaming options along the predictions, preview and head to head for these matches along with Zarina Diyas v Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Magdalena Frech v Grace Min.
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Francesca Di Lorenzo v Kurumi Nara Preview
Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara will kick-start her Charleston Open campaign with an opening round encounter against American wild-card entrant, the 23-year-old Francesca Di Lorenzo. This will be their first competitive meeting.
It’s not been a great start to the season for either player but Nara has won a few matches on the ITF circuit at least. She was a semifinalist at the Fujairah ITF tournament, and then had to win a couple of rounds in the qualifiers here, which she did with great aplomb.
On the other hand, Di Lorenzo is on a six-match losing streak that stretches back to October 2020. Having gone down at the quarterfinal stage of the Macon ITF tournament, she proceeded to lose in the first round of her next two competitions in 2020 and has now lost three in three in 2021 as well.
Which is why it comes as no surprise Nara starts off as a favourite here.
Di Lorenzo v Nara Tip
Nara to win: 4/9 (bet365)
Storm Sanders v Asia Muhammad Preview
Another match between two evenly-ranked players with Australia’s Storm Sanders at 187th and American Asia Muhammad just below at 209th.
The difference, however, is that while Sanders is on an ascent, with her current ranking also her career-best, Muhammad was once ranked 124th in the world and her last main draw win on the WTA tour having come in January 2017. Four years and something on, the hard court specialist Muhammad has struggled to get anything else under her belt.
On the other hand, Sanders had earlier this season defeated Ajla Tomljanovic and Yulia Putintseva as a qualifier to move into the quarterfinals. She also crushed Gabriela Dabrowski and edged past Caroline Dolehide in the qualifiers here to give herself a solid chance of winning her opener here.
Sanders v Muhammad Tip
Sanders to win: 8/11 (bet365)
Zarina Diyas v Natalia Vikhlyantseva Preview
This will be the first meeting between the 88th-ranked Diyas and Vikhlyantseva, who is a world number 151 and it comes in the first round of the Charleston Open.
Diyas has had a decent start to the season, having managed to get to the third round of the Australian Open with wins over Tamara Zidansek and Bernarda Pera, and then beating Christina McHale and Ana Bogdan to make it to the third round of the Phillip Island Trophy as well.
Diyas’ biggest win came earlier in Miami when she shocked Venus Williams in the opener before going down to Belinda Bencic in the second.
On the other hand, Vikhlyantseva finally won her first match of the season in the qualifiers here in Charleston. At all the three tournaments she had played before this, Australian Open, WTA Dubai and the St. Petersburg Open, Vikhlyantseva fell in the first qualifying round.
And while Vikhlyantseva has a decent record on clay as compared to her performances on other surfaces, Diyas has the experience to get past her Russian opponent in this one despite her own struggles on this surface.
Diyas v Vikhlyantseva Tip
Diyas to win: 4/5 (bet365)
Magdalena Frech v Grace Min Preview
This is a first round match between the 159th-ranked French from Poland and the world number 217 and American Min. And it will also be the first time these two will face off in a competitive encounter.
Frech has been more versed with the ITF circuit and comes into this tournament with some solid performances on that circuit over the last 15 months. On clay, for instance, the Polish player made it to the semifinal at the Saint-Malo ITF but her best showing came at the WTA Prague in 2020.
Also played on clay, Frech made it to the main draw there as a lucky loser and went on to win a couple of rounds before bowing out to Simona Halep in the quarterfinal. In 2018, she had won her only Grand Slam main draw match and unsurprisingly it came on the clay courts of Roland-Garros too.
The Pole, however, will be up against a clay court specialist who was once a top-100 player. Min has won 12 ITF titles, of which eight came on clay and enters this competition on the back of successive straight-set wins in the qualifiers.
And with a 37-17 win-loss record on clay over the last three years – which includes ITF tournaments and qualifiers – she will hold the edge here.
Frech v Min Tip
Min to win: 6/4 (bet365)