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September 26, 2017

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McHale's Navy trip boosts fighting spirit of fifth seed

CARLSBAD, California -- London Olympic hopefuls had mixed results Tuesday at the WTA hard-court event in Carlsbad, which offers them a final chance to warm up for the Summer Games tennis competition at Wimbledon.

Fifth seed Christina McHale, due to join Venus and Serena Williams and Varvara Lepchenko on the U.S. Olympic team, battled past Australian Jarmila Gajdosova, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

New Zealand's Marina Erakovic, also headed to the Olympics, beat British Olympic hope Anne Keothavong 6-4, 6-0 in just over an hour and a quarter with five breaks of the Brit's serve.

"It was a tricky first round. Anne comes out hitting some big balls," said the Kiwi ranked 47th.

"She doesn't give you much rhythm, but just getting into the match and settling down helped. I'm just getting used to the surface and moving well and trying to keep relaxed and positive as I can."

McHale may have picked up some extra fighting spirit from her visit on Monday to the retired aircraft carrier USS Midway, now a floating museum docked in nearby San Diego harbor.

McHale, the world number 27 who reached the Wimbledon third round, recovered from a break down against Gajdosova to take the opening set with a backhand winner down the line.

The American took the second thanks to a break of serve in the penultimate game, winning after almost two hours with nine aces.

Seventh seed Yanina Wickmayer, a semifinalist last week up the coast at Stanford and also London-bound, had to retire against trailing qualifier Chan Yung-Jan of Taiwan 7-6 (8/6) due to a back injury.

Chan next faces Britain's Heather Watson, who beat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 6-3, 6-3.

American Vania King, a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Taiwan's Chang Kai-Chen, will be the first opponent for top seed Marion Bartoli of France, who received a first-round bye along with second seed Dominika Cibulkova, third seed Jelena Jankovic and fourth seed Nadia Petrova.

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