Kasatkina, Keys move into Volvo Car Open quarterfinals

Daria Kasatkina returns the ball against Irina-Camelia Begu during a match, Thursday, April 5, 2018 at the Volvo Car Open tennis tournament in Charleston, S.C. (Andrew Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP)
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Defending champion Daria Kasatkina of Russia, No. 5 Julia Goerges of Germany and seventh-seeded American Madison Keys moved into the Volvo Car Open quarterfinals with straight-set victories Thursday. Top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France plays for a spot in the round of eight against No. 14 Alize Cornet of France on Thursday night in the WTA’s first clay-court event of the season.

Kasatkina, the third seed, moved through with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Romania’s Irina-Camilia Begu, the 13th seed. Goerges topped 10th-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan 7-6 (4), 6-3. Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up last September, beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-3.Kastakina said she felt more relaxed on the green clay at the Family Circle Tennis Center than she did in opening play on Tuesday. “Nobody told me it’s so difficult to come and defend a title. So I have to get used to it,” said Kasatkina, ranked 12th in the world.

Keys needed three sets Wednesday night to take her opening match. She was much more focused in defeating Giorgi. Keys win sets up an all-U.S. quarterfinal against Bernarda Pera, who ousted Italian veteran Sara Errani 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Keys feels her first two matches have given her confidence, no matter who she’s facing.”I feel like I have pretty good momentum,” said Keys, ranked 14th in singles. “I think I served really well today. There was a lot of things that I did well, so I think if I just focus on what I was doing well and what I need to do, then I’m not really concerned about who’s on the other side.”

Kristyna Pliskova, who entered ranked 77th in the world, knocked off her second straight seeded player in as many days. Pliskova, the twin sister of top-10 player Karolina Pliskova, had beaten Czech Republic countrywoman and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the No. 2 seed, on Wednesday night. Kristyna Pliskova topped No. 16 seed Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. No. 8 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia beat No. 9 Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-3, 6-4, and No. 12 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands defeated Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar 6-2, 6-4.