Sloane Stephens gets up each morning and checks her stock reports, her bank accounts and her pension numbers.
“I'm not going to be old and broke,” says the 2017 U.S. Open champion. “I guess I'm not your average 26-year-old, but I'm making sure it's not going anywhere.”
The hard-headed businesswoman in Stephens will be pleased with the bottom line of her opening match in the 2019 Volvo Car Open, which required two hours and 37 minutes and a couple of market rallies in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo.
But the eighth-ranked Stephens, the top seed at the Volvo Car Open, might also need to correct some inefficiencies if she's going to add a second VCO title to her career stockpile of six WTA Tour titles and more than $13.6 million in prize money.
Stephens trailed 5-2 in the first set, blew two match points and trailed again 4-2 in the second tiebreak before ripping off five straight points to finally put away No. 78 Sorribes Tormo, a young Spaniard who uses a mix of spins and a variety of post-swing sound effects.
"Obviously, I was a little up and down emotionally," said Stephens, who won here in 2016 but has lost to a player ranked outside the WTA Tour's top 50 in each of her last three tournaments. "But I just tried to stay with it the best I could and just kind of fight my way through the ups and downs."
Charleston teenager Emma Navarro, a junior at Ashley Hall, acquitted herself in her pro debut in a Tuesday night feature match. The wild-card entrant had a tough draw against wily veteran Laura Siegemund, but tested the 104th-ranked German before losing by 7-5, 6-4 before an appreciative crowd that included sign-wielding classmates from Ashley Hall.
Stephens, who moves into the third round, fared better against Sorribes Tormo than she did against another slicer, Tatjana Maria, in a 6-3, 6-2 loss last week in Miami, where Stephens was the defending champion.
"She just plays a different kind of style than most," Stephens said of Sorribes Tormo. "She hits a lot of moon balls, has a lot of different variations. So it's tricky to play against her."'
A tricky weather day had settled down by the time Stephens took the court. Cold and rain delayed the start of Tuesday's play by three hours. When she checked the forecast on her phone Tuesday morning, 2014 VCO champ Andrea Petkovic expected the worst.
"Boy, was it cold out there," Petkovic said after a 6-0, 6-4 victory over American Varvara Lephenko in a first-round match. "I could see my breath coming out. At one point, I think it was snowing.
"Mentally, I was prepared for the biggest storm," said Petkovic, a German whose six career WTA titles include the 2014 Volvo Car Open. "So anything that wasn't a storm was OK."
The 31-year-old Petkovic, whose father played at South Carolina, was ranked as high as No. 9 in the world in 2011 and has seen it all on tour, including bad weather. Tuesday was so cold that "I didn't feel my left hand at all," she said.
"I just focused on letting my arms flow and get depth, because then it's really difficult to play in this cold," she said. "But apart from that, I think it's just survival mechanism and trying to want it more than your opponent in some sense."
Danielle Collins, a 25-year-old American seeded 11th, moved into the second round with a quick 6-1, 6-3 win over countrywoman Madison Brengle. But three other seeded players needed three sets each to move on.
No. 12 Mihaela Buzarnescu got past qualifier Magdalena Frech 6-1, 4-6, 7-5; No. 15 Maria Sakkari was a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 winner over Conny Perrin; and No. 16 seed Petra Martic avoided an upset by American teenager Amanda Asnismova 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.
In other matches Tuesday, qualifiers Lauren Davis and Kateryna Kozlova moved into the second round. Davis, a 25-year-old American, defeated Ysaline Bonaventure 6-4, 0-6, 6-2; Kozlova dismissed Kristyna Pliskova 7-5, 6-4.
Wednesday on Stadium Court
Jessica Pegula vs. Anastasija Sevastova
Aryna Sabalenka vs. Kateryna Kozlova
Jelena Ostapenko vs. Shelby Rogers
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Laura Siegemund or Emma Navarro
Madison Keys vs. Tatjana Maria
Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok vs. Lucie Hradecka/Andreja Klepac