American Shelby Rogers moved a step closer Thursday evening to gaining a wild-card spot in the U.S. Open.
The 20-year-old from South Carolina defeated 15-year-old Naomi Osaka, 6-2, 6-2 at the Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships presented by the Lexus Store of Lexington.
Osaka started both sets on equal footing with Rogers, but the more experienced player was soon able to dictate the points with her relaxed and confident play. Rogers said Osaka served better the second set, forcing her to step up her game.
"I really enjoyed myself out there," Rogers said. "I love the atmosphere of the night matches, and I was able to execute my plan."
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While Rogers advanced comfortably, last year's singles winner, Julia Glushko, said she struggled more than usual, eking out a win, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (12-10) against Shuko Aoyama of Japan.
"I didn't quite achieve the goals I had set before the match," she said. "But one of the goals was to win the match. And I achieved that one."
Two other matches in the women's second round were tight, with Fifth Third 2009 runner-up Julie Coin defeating seventh-seed Irina Falconi 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5) and Thailand's Nicha Lertpitaskinchai beating Atlanta-resident Grace Min 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
South Africa's Chanel Simmonds had her hands full, but managed a 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4 win over Lauren Embree, who graduated this spring from the University of Florida as the nation's top collegiate player.
Embree came to Lexington as part of the USTA collegiate team, which helps college players and recent graduates adjust to playing professional tennis. She is one of 12 players in the program. The players travel together, with coaches, to tournaments. Some do it for the whole year, others, who are still in school, for the summer.
"I love playing for a team," Embree said. "You always have someone to cheer for you, which out here is usually not the case."
Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Misaki Doi cruised through the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukranian Olga Savchuk.
On the men's side, the No. 1 singles seed, Illya Marchenko, of Ukraine, took charge in the second round, leaving few opportunities for qualifier Greg Jones of Australia. Marchenko dominated throughout much of the match, winning 6-4, 6-2. No. 2 seed, James Ward of Great Britain, won his second round match Wednesday over wild-card Mitchell Krueger, a 19-year-old former top American junior who turned pro last year.
In the feature match Thursday night, Bradley Klahn of California defeated Canadian Steven Deiz, 7-6 (10-8), 6-0. Klahn overcame a 2-5 deficit to win the first set in a close tiebreaker.
American Tennys Sandgren, the last qualifier standing, advanced to the third round by defeating Irishman James McGee, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.
When: Through Sunday. Matches begin at 11 a.m.
Where: UK's Boone Tennis Center