Upsets dominate third round at VCO

American Madison Keys returns the ball against Germany's Kaura Siegemund during the Volvo Car Open Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Paul Zoeller/Staff

Married life seems to agree with Elena Vesnina.

It certainly has seemed to enhance her singles play of late.

Vesnina and Pavel Tabuntsov were married back in November and the 29-year-old Russian has played some of her best singles ever since they tied the knot.

Vesnina overwhelmed second-seed Belinda Bencic, 6-1, 6-1 Tuesday at the Volvo Car Open.

Meanwhile, on a day when upsets were the rule rather than the exception, Monica Puig ousted sixth-seed and 2014 VCO champion Andrea Petkovic, 7-5, 6-2.

Vesnina has been known for most of her career as a top-flight doubles player, winning 12 times on the WTA Tour, including a U.S. Open title in 2014.

But her singles play has picked up of late. Vesnina advanced to the quarterfinals at Doha last month and won two matches last week in Miami, including a win over Venus Williams.

Beating Bencic, who was the No. 10 ranked player in the world entering this week, only gives Vesnina more confidence in her singles play.

“Pavel gets very nervous when he’s watching me play, but I like it when he can make a tournament,” Vesnina said. “He’s not here this week, but he was watching on television. I think maybe I’m playing better in singles because I feel settled off the court. Getting married is very important for any woman, me included.”

Bencic, who has been bothered by a sore back, appeared to slow down considerably in the second set.

“Elena is always dangerous no matter how fit she is,” Vesnina said. “In the first set we had some really close games and she was moving very well. We had some long rallies and some really tricky points. I thought I was playing a little bit faster than her and a little more consistent at the beginning of the second set. At the end of the second set you could tell she wasn’t moving as well.”

Vesnina said Charleston remains one of her favorites stops on the tour.

“I love coming here every year and I have friends that live in town,” Vesnina said. “It feels like a second home to me. The fans have always been amazing to me here.”

Puig, who is ranked No. 62 in the world coming into the tournament, found herself down 5-3 in the opening set against Petkovic and then proceeded to capture 10 of the next 13 games.

“Even when I got down, I felt like I was playing really well,” Puig said. “I missed a couple of easy shots, I thought, some short balls; and sometimes you’re playing well and you just miss those shots.

“So I just had to adjust my game a little bit, just keep believing that I could hit the same way and eventually they were going to go in.”

Petkovic has become a fan favorite at the tournament, winning in 2014 and with her father’s ties to the state. Zoran Petkovic was a top singles player at the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s. Andrea wore a Gamecocks sweatshirt when she won the title in 2014.

“I definitely had to be on my toes, knowing that she is a fan favorite as well because she won here in 2014,” Puig said. “It’s something that you have to be conscious about because the crowd is going to want to back her a little bit more.”