World no. 8 Sloane Stephens has not won the WTA title since Miami 2018 and that will not change after Washington as well, losing to Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 22 minutes. The Swede made a great start and never lost the focus, suffering two breaks and securing five from 12 opportunities to seal the deal in straight sets.
Sloane couldn't find her rhythm in the opening set or to keep the advantage in the second, hitting the exit door much earlier than she expected but losing too many points following an unfortunate result in the capital in 2018 as well.
The American wasted three break points at 2-2 and lost four straight games, sending Peterson 6-2 up before opening a 4-2 advantage in set number two. Rebecca pulled the break back, only to fall behind in game nine once again, leaving Sloane to serve for the set.
Instead of a steady hold, Stephens dropped the next three games to push the Swede over the finish line and losing the fourth of the last six encounters on the Tour. Camila Giorgi ousted Sachia Vickery 6-2, 7-5, playing well in the opener and saving a set point at 4-5 in set number two, breaking the American in the next game and fending off break points at 6-5 to book the spot in the second round.
Zarina Diyas proved to be too strong for the 15-year-old qualifier Cori Gauff, toppling the youngster 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 18 minutes thanks to a better performance behind the first serve. Cori scored two excellent wins in the qualifying round but that wasn't enough for Diyas, playing against 16 break chances and giving serve away five times.
Zarina was broken twice and was 4-3 down in the opener before shifting into a higher gear, claiming nine of the next 11 games to seal the deal and reach the second round. The 4th seed Su-Wei Hsieh toppled Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 18 minutes, controlling the pace with her first serve and stealing the Belgian's serve four times to march on.
The 17-year-old Catherine McNally toppled Lin Zhu 6-4, 6-2 for a notable win in front of the home fans, showing her return skills and moving into the second round with six breaks on her tally. Another 17-year-old Hailey Baptiste made a stellar WTA debut in front of the fans in the hometown, beating the 2nd seed Madison Keys 7-6, 6-2, fending off six out of seven break points to reign in the pivotal moments and bring the victory home with some brave hitting in the closing stages of the opening set when she played against two set points at 5-6.
Madison wasted her chances and had to pay the price, losing the tie break and never finding the rhythm again to push the youngster through and finish her campaign on the first obstacle.