Barty, fresh off a championship run at the Miami Open the past two weeks, had little trouble moving from hard courts to clay. She won 10 of the past 11 games in her first match on the slower surface since winning the 2019 French Open.
“There was an adjustment period, without a doubt,” Barty said. “It was a very quick turnaround from Miami, just had a couple of hours of practice. I was, honestly, just hoping I didn’t trip and fall over trying to slide. But it came back quite naturally. So really happy to be back here, particularly in Charleston, but back on clay.”
Kenin, ranked fourth in the world and a former Australian Open champion, was tied in the final set before several errors cost her the match. Kenin put two shots long in the final game to send Davis into the next round.
Davis said she was struggling with her serve early on before slowing down and thinking through her game.
“I found she wasn’t too much a fan of high balls,” Davis said. “So I really took advantage of that. Really happy with how I composed myself and handled the situation.”
Among the seeded players moving on was 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, who topped Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Stephens, ranked 57th, has won two matches here — the first time in her past nine tournaments she’d accomplished that.
“I think things can’t be bad forever. I think once you get that good swing going in tennis, matches come quickly and you get a little bit of confidence,” Stephens said. “Pleased with the win today, obviously, and hopefully on the upswing.”
The Volvo Car Open, which is traditionally the kickoff of the clay-court season, was called off in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.