Tag: iga swiatek

2021 Adelaide International: Swiatek dominates final to claim second career title

IGA Swiatek has backed up her maiden title win at Roland Garros last year with a dominant 66-minute display against second seed Belinda Bencic in the 2021 Adelaide International final. Swiatek won 6-2 6-2 in an ultra-impressive performance that saw the 19-year-old claim the win. Remarkably, Swiatek did not drop a set throughout the entire 2021 tournament and has now risen to world number 15.

“For sure, there is something that clicks,” Swiatek said of her dominant run. “Not only in my head but also tennis-wise. “I feel pretty good on court. I feel like sometimes I have weeks when everything clicks, and that’s just the effect of the work we’re doing.”

Swiatek was unbeatable on serve, dropping just two points for the entire match off her first serve, and four points off her second serve. By comparison, Bencic only won 60.6 per cent and 36.4 per cent of her first and second serve points, broken four times by her young opponent and unable to create a break point opportunity.

“I struggled a lot today with how different she played,” Bencic said post-match. “I just couldn’t figure out her patterns or her serve or anything at all.

“It’s the unpredictable-ness. “I think she plays everything just little bit different than I’m expecting. “So not the usual patterns which you would expect. I think I’m a pretty good anticipator. “But today it was a little bit off – of course, thanks to her game.

“Then I think she plays with much more spin and heaviness. Also the balls you think you can reach are just jumping over you. “It makes it harder to make a defence, to counterpunch.”

After remarkably winning her maiden title at Roland Garros last year, Swiatek eyed off being more consistent in 2021, something she can tick off early in the year, and a goal she hoped to continue throughout the season.

“It’s good for me because I can see that I can play good tennis for the whole week,” she said. “It wasn’t like one time during the French Open. “It gives me more confidence that I’m more developed [as a] player and I can play good more often. It just gives me motivation.

“Our goal right now is to have that more often, because I know I can play great tennis. “It’s just all about planning, aiming for the specific tournament to have the best shape possible.”

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Adelaide International: Bencic to face Swiatek in decider

A BLOCKBUSTER Adelaide International final will see two of the WTA Tour’s up-and-comers face off in a highly anticipated clash following semi-finals results. Second seed Belinda Bencic will take on fifth seed Iga Swiatek after both players took out unseeded opponents yesterday.

Second seed Bencic had to dig deep against teenage sensation Coco Gauff, winning after two tiebreakers were shared before either player, before racing away to salute in the third set, 7-6 6-7 6-2 in two hours and 45 minutes. In a match that featured pretty shocking consistency on serve, the pair produced 43 double faults between them (23-20 in Gauff’s favour) with the American serving eight more aces (14-6).

Unsurprisingly with the inconsistency on serve, both had plenty of chances to break, and Bencic broke nine of 25 chances, while Gauff broke six of 15 opportunities. In total, 15 of the 32 games went the way of the receiver, which is nearly unheard of at the top level. The second seed’s ability to win 62 to 55.3 per cent of her service points, as well as 44.7 compared to 38.0 per cent upon return was the difference.

Fifth seed Swiatek booked her spot in the final by taking down Bencic’s compatriot, Jil Teichmann. The Polish Roland Garros winner needed just 81 minutes to dispose of Switzerland’s second highest ranked player, winning 6-3 6-2 in style. Unlike the other semi-final, both players were fairly consistent on serve, but Swiatek was unflappable, only facing one break point and saving it. Teichmann, on the other hand, was broken three times from eight chances.

The strength on service was obvious for Swiatek, who won 77.1 and 58.8 per cent of her first and second serve points off a 67.3 per cent efficiency. Teichmann also won 79.3 per cent off her first serve, but struggled off her second with only 28.6 per cent success. In the end, the Grand Slam winner was just too clinical and booked her spot in the Adelaide International final.

“It was my goal from the beginning of the season, I want to be [a] more consistent player, just play good week by week,” Swiatek said, post-match. “I know it’s impossible sometimes. You’re just going to get tired at some point.

“But I felt pretty good from the beginning of the tournament. It’s really important for me. Just I feel that it’s going to be easier year by year because I’m going to be more grown-up, I’m going to be able to physically and mentally handle tournaments every week.

“It was my goal, so I’m pretty happy everything worked here. Hopefully other WTA tournaments I’m going to be able to do that also.”

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS:

[2] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
[5] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-2

2021 Adelaide International: Teenagers and Swiss talents reign supreme in quarters

A HUGE couple of semi-finals await at the 2021 Adelaide International after big results ensued yesterday. Two teenagers are well within their chances to show up their more experienced opposition, as two Swiss talents also remain in the hunt. All four players remaining in the draw are under the age of 24, making for an exciting showing of the depth of young talent on the WTA Tour.

An upset over top seed Ash Barty on Wednesday appeared to be Danielle Collins‘ downfall when she took on Polish teenager Iga Swiatek, failing to complete her quarter final matchup and retiring midway through the second set. Swiatek now makes her way to the semis relatively unscathed, with the 6-3 3-0 default win under her belt and sets up an intriguing battle with 61st ranked Swiss talent Jil Teichmann, who disposed of Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in a tough three-setter which went close to three hours. Whilst Teichmann nabbed the first set with relative ease, her opposition would not go down without a fight as the 6-4 6-7 7-5 battle ensued. Fatigue will be a big factor in the semi between Swiatek and Teichmann, with the former sure to take advantage of her opposition’s result in their upcoming encounter.

The second semi will be between American qualifier Coco Gauff and Swiss second seed Belinda Bencic, as both completed solid wins to make their way through. The 16-year-old Gauff took out compatriot Shelby Rogers in three sets, starting slow in the 2-6 6-4 6-4 encounter but building her way back into the contest to reign supreme over her more experienced opposition. As for Bencic, she had a relatively easy encounter against qualifying Australian Storm Sanders, whose excellent week ground to a halt with the 6-2 6-4 sweep from the world number 12. Despite a stronger second set from the qualifier to draw even at 3-3, Bencic utilised her array of skills to wrestle back momentum and take out the win.

2021 Adelaide International: Collins gatecrashes Barty Party as Storm Sanders becomes the last Aussie standing

DANIELLE Collins has sought revenge on world number one Ash Barty, overturning the result between the pair at last year’s Adelaide International to win in straight sets and book her place in the last eight. The American went down in three sets in last year’s semi-final showdown which saw Barty go on to win the title, but in the Round of 16, it was Collins who got the better of the Australian, stunning her 6-3 6-4 and condemning Barty to her second consecutive loss.

“I think I was really familiar with her game after losing to her three times,” Collins said post-match. “So I certainly got some great tennis lessons out of that and have learned from it.”

The American was the third from her nation to make her way into the quarter finals following Shelby Rogers‘ victory the day before, and young gun Coco Gauff‘s come-from-behind win over sixth seed Croatian Petra Martic. Gauff had to fight back from a set down to win 5-7 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes, saving seven of her 10 break points, whilst breaking her opponent four times in a nail-biting encounter. She now takes on Rogers in an all-American affair.

For Collins, having disposed of one Grand Slam winner in Barty, she now has another to overcome. The unseeded American faces Iga Swiatek in the quarter finals after the Pole Roland Garros winner defeated Australian Maddison Inglis in straight sets, 6-1 6-3. On a day that was a disaster for seeds, Swiatek held firm and won through to the final eight, joining second seed Belinda Bencic as the only other seed through to the quarter finals.

The biggest upset of the day – even more so than Collins over Barty – was Storm Sanders‘ triumph over Yulia Putintseva. The 26-year-old world number 292nd had no fears against the seventh seed and world number 28, winning 6-4 5-7 6-1 in a tight affair. In a remarkable second match since they last played nine years ago when they were teenagers, the now 26-year-olds engaged in a two-hour and 18-minute battle which saw Sanders emerge victorious. She saved eight of 10 break points, whilst capitalising on four of nine herself to make her way into the quarter finals to take on Bencic.

In the other results, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova will lock horns with Swiss rising talent Jil Teichmann after both won their respective matches. Sevastova knocked out Christina McHale in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, while Teichmann came from behind to defeat eighth seed Chinese talent, Wang Qiang, 3-6 6-3 6-3.

ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-3 6-4
[2] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-1 6-3
[5] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-1 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [6] Petra Martic (CRO) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated [7] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 5-7 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [8] Wang Qiang (CHN) 3-6 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) defeated Christina McHale 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Tennis Australia/James Elsby

2021 Adelaide International: Rogers downs Konta in day of upsets

DAY 3 at the Adelaide International saw a couple more upsets make their way through to the Round of 16, with one seed disposed of in straight sets and a duo of Aussie qualifiers winning their third straight win to head to the second round.

It was Johanna Konta who fell at the first hurdle, absolutely obliterated by American Shelby Rogers 6-2 6-2 in one hour and 16 minutes. Konta retired early from the Australian Open – during the first round in fact – from injury and looked the goods heading into Adelaide, but struggled to maintain her form and failed to have an impact on serve and more so on return. With just 10 unforced errors to her name throughout the contest, Rogers was clean and clinical, registering her third career Top 10 victory. The results of Rogers’ compatriots Coco Gauff and Madison Brengle went in two different directions though, with Gauff overcoming fellow qualifier Jasmine Paolini in a two-hour and 33-minute 6-4 7-6 6-2 battle, whilst Brengle was unfortunate to draw Polish fifth seed Iga Swiatek, and was disposed of in straight sets.

Maddison Inglis fought off former champion Sam Stosur, coming back from the brink in a tight 6-7 7-5 6-4 marathon, winning in two hours and 46 minutes. Whilst Stosur was marginally more effective on serve, Inglis saved seven of her 10 break points and when it came down to overall points won, just pipped her compatriot at the post. In the other all-Australian battle it was underdog Storm Sanders who got the chocolates over Alja Tomljanovic, as Sanders’ fine recent form continued with another straight sets victory, 6-1 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Looking to seeded contests, and both Yulia Putintseva and Petra Martic head through to the second round relatively unscathed, but were both pushed by their respective opposition in Laura Siegemund and Liudmila Samsonova, coming away with 6-4 6-4 and 4-6 6-0 7-5 margins over their respective foes. The remaining matches saw Misaki Doi and Jil Teichmann also join the second round club.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Adelaide International WTA preview: Barty Party not over down under

THOSE Australians wanting more Ash Barty will get what they wished for after the world number one made a surprise late charge at the 2021 Adelaide International WTA 500 event. The tournament was initially featuring a stacked field, but with many of them reaching deep into the Australian Open, withdrawals had left the tournament without a Top 10 player. Then came Barty.

The Australian reached the quarter finals of her home Grand Slam during the week, and has opted to play another tournament Down Under having missed out on so much tennis in the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, the tournament committee was more than happy to hand her a wildcard alongside fellow Australians Olivia Gadecki – coming off a stunning win over Grand Slam winner Sofia KeninSam Stosur and Ajla Tomljanovic.

The field for the Adelaide International is not the strongest one, but still features some great young talent alongside some players really hoping to build better form in 2021. Roland Garros reigning champion Iga Swiatek could loom as one of the main threat’s to Barty’s crown, with the 17th ranked Pole coming in as the fifth seed. Fellow young gun, Yulia Putintseva is seventh seed and one of seven Top 30 competitors at the event.

Elise Mertens is the one to watch, with the tricky Belgian flying under the radar at times, but has the capacity to push for a Top 10 spot, currently ranked 16th and coming in as the fourth seed. Belinda Bencic and Johanna Konta round out the top four players at the event, with both the Swiss up-and-comer and British talent looking to have better outings than their third and first round exits at Melbourne Park. Sixth seed Petra Martic is in the same boat, exiting the first Grand Slam of the year in the Round of 128 and now the world number 19 is hoping to impress here.

The withdrawals from the tournament include Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, and young guns Bianca Andreescu, Elena Rybakina, Dayana Yastremska and Marketa Vondrousova. Instead a number of Chinese and French hopes have come into the tournament, with Zhang Shuai, Zheng Saisai and Wang Qiang joining eighth seed Qiang Wang in the draw, as well as Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. American duo Danielle Collins and Shelby Rogers are also among the inclusions following the withdrawals.

While the Australian Open did not go to plan for the world number one, the Barty Party is predicted to roll on in Adelaide, with the Australian star a winner her 12 months ago and is clearly the best player in the draw. Mertens and Swiatek are the biggest threats to her crown based on their form, while one of the other seeds could finally click into gear in 2021 and cause some headaches.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Women’s Round of 16 wrap: Hsieh into maiden Grand Slam quarter final as Osaka comes back from the brink

A BLOCKBUSTER day of Australian Open action completed the first week at Melbourne Park, as a couple more upsets were added to the list and tight encounters were pushed all the way as the tournament heats up.

Three three-setters set the tone for the huge day on the park, as Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka were pushed all the way by their respective opposition after slow starts, and Serena Williams overcame an uncharacteristic second set to win the longest match of the day against Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 2-6 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes.

This victory marks Williams’ 13th quarterfinals appearance at the Australian Open, and in the duos’ first encounter it took a lot to overcome the Belarusian, who was the first to take a set off the American champion during the tournament thus far.

“It was obviously real important because I didn’t want to be out of the tournament, so it felt good to kind of clutch that in the end and get through that,” Williams said post-match.

“I just felt like even games that I lost, I was so close to winning,” Williams said. “Not all games, but probably most of those games. I just needed to play better on the big points. “I knew that I could. “I still hadn’t reached my peak. “I was like, ‘Okay, Serena, you got this, just keep going.”

Williams piled on the pressure with nine aces and hitting 30 winners for 26 unforced errors, and was also marginally more efficient on serve despite her second set dip, winning 78 per cent of points off her first serve and 40 per cent off her second, compared to the slightly more consistent Sabalenka’s 68 and 50 per cent effectiveness.

The other two day sessions played host to an exciting comeback from Osaka, who came from 3-5 down in the third set to win her match against 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza, 4-6 6-4 7-5, and an excellent outing from Hsieh Su-Wei who ousted 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova in the lone two set win of the day, 6-4 6-2.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty good match. We had a lot of great points,” Muguruza said post-match. “I felt, of course, a little bit disappointed being 5-3 in the third set up, having match points. It’s never a good feeling losing a match that you feel you could have change in one second. “But I left the court with a good feeling, very good feeling of this tournament in general.”

“I felt like I couldn’t hit any ball at a slower pace or else she would immediately move me. I think that’s why I made so many unforced errors, because I was sort of playing in a zone that wasn’t comfortable for me,” Osaka said.

“But I also think that’s something that you get when you play against a Grand Slam champion. “For me, that’s where I feel I play the best because I feel like I’m pushed really hard.”

Osaka will have the test of overcoming Hsieh in the quarter final, as the Chinese Taipei talent makes her maiden grand slam quarter final appearance from 38 main draw appearances. The veteran was clinical in her ousting of Vondrousova, winning a whopping 80 per cent off her first serve, and whilst her second serve 53 per cent efficiency was nothing exciting, she did not have to rely on the second given her 28 points off her first serve. The final match of the round saw Halep dispose of Polish youngster Iga Swiatek, coming from a set down to reign supreme 3-6 6-1 6-4.

In today’s matches, a trio of Americans will try their hand at joining Williams in the quarter finals, as unseeded duo Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers take on Elina Svitolina and Ash Barty respectively, whilst 22nd seed Jennifer Brady will take on 28th seed Donna Vekic, and the remaining match will play out between a couple more seeds in Elise Mertens and Karolina Muchova.

ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated [15] Iga Swiatek (POL) 3-6 6-1 6-4
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated [14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated [7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 2-6 6-4
Hsieh Su-Wei (TAI) defeated [19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 6-2

Picture credit: Tennis Australia/Rob Prezioso

Australian Open Women’s Round of 32 wrap: Top ranked players all advance to fourth round

JUST one unseeded player remains in the bottom half of the Australian Open Women’s draw after all of the highest ranked players won through on day five of the Grand Slam event. The final unseeded player remaining is Chinese Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh, who took out Italian qualifier and former Top 5 player Sara Errani in three sets, 6-4 2-6 7-5 to book her spot in the Round of 16.

Across the board the favourites all got up with that all-unseeded clash being the only match requiring three sets. The next closest – at least for a set – was Serena Williams needing a tiebreaker against Russian Anastasia Potapova, before clicking into gear with a dominant second set to win, 7-6 6-2 and advance through to the fourth round. Also through in straight sets were fellow Top 10 players, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka. Halep took out 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-1 6-3, Osaka brushed aside 27th seed Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-2, while Sabalenka ended the winning streak of Ann Li in 2021 courtesy of a 6-3 6-1 victory.

The wins set up an unbelievable fourth round match between Williams and Sabalenka. The 10th seed American is going for the equal-record 24th Grand Slam title, while the Belarusian – despite yet to secure her first – has an 18-1 record since late last year, triumphing in three consecutive tournaments to close out the season.

“It’s a big challenge, but it’s a tough one, but I’m going to do everything I can to prepare myself for that match, like mentally be ready to get this win,” Sabalenka said post-match of Williams after her win against Li. “She’s a great player, and it’s always a big challenge to play against these kind of players. But I’m going to do everything I can to get this win. We’re all here for the wins and I’m going to do everything.”

Williams said she did not like the way she played in the first set against the teenage Potapova, before having more consistent strokes in the second set.

“I just was not striking in that first set. I was making errors, I was slow,” Williams said post-match. “At one point, i just started playing defense because it was the only thing I could do. “It was good to get through that match. The first set was extremely tight. I was a little tight, but it worked out. “I was able to play a little more free in the second set.”

Williams said she was looking forward to the clash with Sabalenka, in what shapes to be a power spectacular with the two biggest hitters in the game going head-to-head.

“She hits very hard. She has a big, big power game,” Williams said. “She’s a big girl. “Strong like myself. “I think it will be a really good match.”

In the other seeded results, last year’s finalist Garbine Muguruza continued her form at Melbourne Park with a dominant 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, while Marketa Vondrousova toppled giant-killer Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-4, and Iga Swiatek proved too good for Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, winning in straight sets in the late match.

Aside from the Williams-Sabalenka clash, Halep takes on Swiatek, Osaka faces Muguruza and in the only match not featuring a Grand Slam winner, Vondrousova locks horns with Su-Wei. In today’s action, the three key matches are top seed Ash Barty up against Russian 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, 11th seed Belinda Bencic taking on 18th seed Elise Mertens, and sixth seed Karolina Pliskova facing Czech compatriot and 25th seed, Karolina Muchova.

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated [32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-1 6-3
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated [27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-3 6-2
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-3 6-1
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 7-6 6-2
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-1 6-1
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-4 6-3
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-2 6-4
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [Q] Sara Errani (ITA) 6-4 2-6 7-5

Picture credit: Tennis Australia/Rob Prezioso

Australian Open Women’s Round of 64 wrap: Reigning champion Kenin falters

WHILE rain delays may have soured Day 4 of the 2021 Australian Open, there was not much to sour the women’s draw as the Round of 64 concluded, with a much more predictable day at the office compared to Wednesday’s results. But one result was the upset of the round – and possibly the week – as defending Australian Open champion and world number four, Sofia Kenin, was disposed of in straight sets by Estonian power-hitter, Kaia Kanepi.

It was an uncharacteristic outing from Kenin that sees her finish off her time in Melbourne on the sidelines, failing to withstand the pressure of Kanepi’s powerful serve, with the Estonian racking up 22 winners and 10 aces to Kenin’s 10 and one at an 80 per cent first serve win rate. But it was not just her own serve that Kanepi won off, but also Kenin’s, with the American winning points off 60 per cent of her first serve and 44 per cent off her second, unable to compare and going down in 64 minutes.

“I was obviously way too nervous,” Kenin said post-match. “I felt like I obviously wasn’t there. My head wasn’t there.

“I’m not going to take any credit away from her. She played really well. She came up with some good shots. She obviously had a good plan against me.

“I had chances. I just couldn’t take it. I obviously know why because the nerves big-time got to me.

“I just couldn’t execute my shots.”

While the show is over for the reigning champion, all other competing seeds on the day continued their winning form with Ash Barty tested by compatriot Daria Gavrilova in a 6-1 7-6 outing, eventually overcoming the wildcard in just over 90 minutes, while Karolina Pliskova was tested early by American Danielle Collins before running out a 7-6 6-2 victor.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina was challenged in patches by exciting youngster Coco Gauff before utilising her experience to come away with a 6-4 6-3 victory, and the same could be said for 18th seed Elise Mertens who defeated Zhu Lin 7-6 6-1, while fellow seeds Jennifer Brady, Karolina Muchova, Donna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova all joined the straight sets winners club.

Three players were extended to two-plus hours in their respective encounters, with seeds Belinda Bencic and Anett Kontaveit pushed by their respective opponents in Svetlana Kuznetsova and Heather Watson, while Egyptian Mayar Sherif fell out of the winners circle after winning the first set against Kaja Juvan, eventually going down 3-6 7-6 6-3 in two hours and 39 minutes. The final three-setter of the round saw Kazakh 26th seed Yulia Putintseva steal victory away from Alison Van Uytvanck after a sloppy 1-6 second set, eventually reigning supreme in one hour and 55 minutes.

In the remaining matches of the round, American duo Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers both came out on top relatively unscathed and are joined by Kristina Mladenovic in the third round. Today’s proceedings will see seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka and Serena Williams headline the day session at Rod Laver Arena, with the likes of 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza and US Open winner Naomi Osaka playing at Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena respectively. World number two Simona Halep will take on Veronika Kudermetova in the evening at Rod Laver, and French Open victor Iga Swiatek will hope to continue her run.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-1 7-6
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-3 6-2
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 6-4 6-3
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 7-5 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 7-5 2-6 6-4
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zhu Lin (CHN) 7-6 6-1
[21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-7 6-4 6-2
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-1 6-2
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-4 6-1
[26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4 1-6 6-2
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-2 6-2
[29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-3 7-6
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-0 6-1
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated [Q] Mayar Sherif (EGY) 3-6 7-6 6-3
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-2 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 7-5 6-1

Australian Open Women’s Round of 64 wrap: Cirstea stuns Kvitova as Halep holds on

A COUPLE of massive upsets and an almost even bigger upset were the talking points on day three of the Australian Open women’s competition. Eighth seed Bianca Andreescu‘s second match back from injury did not go to plan, losing in straight sets to Chinese Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh, while ninth seed Petra Kvitova‘s lacklustre form of late continued, losing out to unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea in three sets.

The world’s best doubles player – but ranked 71st in singles – Su-Wei showed no mercy against the Canadian US Open winner, claiming a 6-2 6-3 win in just 83 minutes on court. Su-Wei hit four less winners (16-20), but had 11 less unforced errors (14-25), as she broke six times from nine chances compared to Andreescu’s two from four. It meant that in the past 18 months, the Canadian young gun has played just the two matches – both here at Melbourne Park and back-to-back – for a net result of 1-1.

The more disappointing of the two results was Kvitova’s three-set loss to world number 68 Cirstea. Whilst making it a battle, Kvitova faded out in the deciding set to lose 6-4 1-6 6-1 in two hours and three minutes. One of, if not the best left hander in the world, the Czech has not been herself of late, and needs to rekindle the form soon or she could slip right outside the Top 10. Full credit to Cirstea who broke six times from 16 chances – compared to five from 13 – whilst hitting 14 less unforced errors (30-44) and only four less winners (17-21).

Almost witnessing the biggest upset of the tournament to-date, fans on Margaret Court Arena could hardly believe their eyes when Australian Ajla Tomljanovic was serving for the match against second seed Simona Halep. The home nation support tried to will on their competitor who won the first set, and then was 5-2 up in the third set. Unfortunately for Tomljanovic, that is where it all swung in the world number two’s favour, as Halep won the last five games of the match – crucially breaking in the ninth game of the set and booking her spot in the third round. After losing every singles match in the second half of last year – not an exaggeration – Tomljanovic has shown good form in 2021, winning two from five, with losses to Halep, Aryna Sabalenka and a three-set defeat to Alize Cornet last week.

Speaking of Sabalenka, she continued her great form of the past six months to post a straight sets win over Russian Daria Kasatkina. She joined other Top 10 players, Naomi Osaka, Sabalenka and Serena Williams in the next round without dropping a set. Other seeds to win in two sets were last year’s Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza, reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, and the resurgent Tunisian, Ons Jabeur.

In an all-Russian battle, 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova booked her spot in the Round of 32 courtesy of a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Varvara Gracheva. She joined Anastasia Potapova in the next round after the Russian took care of Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos, 6-2 6-4. The only other seed to drop out at the second round stage was Elena Rybakina with the rising Kazakh talent unable to repeat her early form last year, going down to France’s Fiona Ferro, 6-4 6-4.

One could have been forgiven if they thought they had time travelled 10 to 15 years. Italian qualifier and former Top 5 player Sara Errani easily overcame an injured Venus Williams 6-1 6-0, in what was a battle of the veterans. A much younger Ann Li continued her unbeaten run in 2021, defeating Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets, while Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas also made it through to the Round of 32.

The match of the third round has to be third seed Osaka up against 27th seed Jabeur, with the winner likely to play Muguruza in the Round of 16. The stunning upsets of Andreescu and Kvitova has opened the draw wide open for Vondrousova, who could easily make a quarter final if she can play at her best as the only Top 60 player in her section. Sabalenka takes on Li, whilst a potential fourth round clash between the power punchers in Sabalenka and Serena Williams would be a dream, much like a similar clash if Halep and Swiatek win their respective third round matches.

Looking ahead to today, and top seed Ash Barty is back on court up against compatriot Daria Gavrilova in a must-watch for the home nation. Forget not dropping a set, Barty is yet to drop a game after her double-donut performance against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the first round. Other matches that could provide some highlights include 11th seed Belinda Benci up against Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin take on Danielle Collins and Kaia Kanepi respectively. The match of the day is most likely fifth seed Elina Svitolina clashing with young gun Coco Gauff in a head-to-head not to be missed.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-2 6-3
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-3 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 1-6 6-1
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-0
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [Q] Liudmilla Samsonova (RUS) 6-3 6-1
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [17] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [Q] Rebecca Marino (CAN) 6-1 7-5
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [LL] Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3 6-2
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Ann Li (USA) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 7-6
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [Q] Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-1 6-0

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