Tag: zhang shuai

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

Siegemund joins top eight seeds in quarters as final match delayed

UNSEEDED German Laura Siegemund has earned a place in his first ever Grand Slam quarter final alongside a couple of top eight seeds in Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova. The 32-year-old veteran produced an impressive performance to down Spaniard Paula Badosa in straight sets, 7-5 6-2.

The match lasted an hour and 36 minutes with Siegemund doing more damage courtesy of 25 winners to 12, and the pair splitting 30 unforced errors apiece. Both opponents were serving at a high clip with more than two thirds of their first serves going in, but it was the German who took control on those points with a 72 per cent winning record to Badosa’s 54 per cent. By the end of the match she broke five times, in order to advance through to the next round.

“It’s exciting to come so far. It was always my dream to be in the second week of a Slam,” Siegemund said post-match. “We just spoke about it with my boyfriend in the US Open. It was one big goal for me to make it in singles into the second week of a Slam. “That’s where I see myself. “That’s where I want to be. “I’m glad I’m making that come true now.”

Now Siegemund has the tough task of facing Kvitova, in what will be her first match on Court Philippe Chartrier this tournament. She said she was looking forward to the challenge and being in a more predictable setting with the roof.

“I kind of like to play on Chatrier because you know when you play, apart from maybe matches before you, but you know the conditions a little bit better,” Siegemund said. “Out there it’s very different every day. “Wind, rain. “Also today there were some phases where it rained pretty hard, like almost if it goes more then you would have to stop, all that stuff. “Not unhappy about going into Chatrier and having the roof if we need to.

“Petra is a really tough opponent, no question about it. “It will be totally different of all the matches I have played here so far. “I played also more against clay court players, more with spin and very tactical. “She’s not like that. “She serves very well. “There is no second chances in rallies with her. “That will be different and I’m looking forward to it.”

Kvitova breezed past China’s Zhang Shuai to also make the Roland Garros quarter finals for the first time in nine years. Whilst the seventh seeded Czech is no stranger to going deep in Grand Slams, she has not reached the last eight in Parish since 2012. Kvitova defeated Zhang 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 25 minutes, hitting 23 winners to nine and dominating off her first serve with a success rate of 71 per cent to 51 per cent. Of her drought reaching the last eight, Kvitova admitted clay was not her preferred surface.

“I think it’s been a miracle for me to make the semifinal here in Roland Garros,” she said post-match. “I wasn’t really the player who always ever succeed on the clay… After eight years to be in the quarterfinal again, it’s great. “I’m really happy for that, that I’m still able to play on all surfaces.” One year I do remember I won tournaments on all surfaces. “I showed myself that I can really play on every surface. “So I’m glad for that.”

Meanwhile Australian Open winner Kenin moved a step closer to claiming her second Grand Slam title by knocking over unseeded Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro in an impressive come-from-behind win. Kenin took an hour and 44 minutes to win 2-6 6-2 6-1. Ferro headed into the match on an 18-game winning streak including a title at Palermo, and started strongly before the 21-year-old bounced back.

Kenin actually led 2-0 in the first set before conceding six consecutive games to her opponent and Ferro took a commanding lead. A series of breaks early in the third before Kenin held her serve in the fourth game took her to a 3-1 lead, then broke and held again to go out to the double break and eventually win it 6-2. It was a part of a nine of 10 games winning run which saw the American teenager go from 1-1 to to 6-2 and 4-0 in the third. Ferro finally managed to hold in the fifth game of the decider, but Kenin took it out by holding serve and breaking in the last game of the match.

“I was just super proud of myself,” Kenin said post-match. “Yes, there was a lot of emotions. I was just super happy that I won. “Like, the crowd wasn’t the best, which is understandable, but still I wish it would have been a little bit different.”

“I’m like super happy that I’m in the quarters. “I usually don’t play really good on clay. “In the past in juniors, I really hated the clay. “Last year I started to like it for the first time. “I’m just super proud of myself. “I feel like I’m playing really well.”

Unfortunately for 30th seed Tunisian Ons Jabeur and unseeded American Danielle Collins, their match which was scheduled to go ahead was postponed due to timing and the pair will now face off first-up on day nine for a spot in the quarter finals.

Picture: Getty Images

Pliskova sisters downed as Ostapenko returns at full strength

DAY five at the Roland Garros saw the second day of Round of 64 action, with the women’s draw continuing to produce some intriguing results. Three more seeds fell to lower ranked opposition as the draw continues to heat up, with second seed Karolina Pliskova upset in straight sets by a tenacious Jelena Ostapenko, while both Elena Rybakina (14th seed) and Sloane Stephens (29th) were disposed off in three-setters despite both making a second set comeback.

The battle between 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko and Pliskova was always going to be tough, but very little expected it to be complete in 69 minutes with a 6-4 6-2 result that saw Ostapenko reign supreme. With Pliskova known for her strong serve, Ostapenko said she focused on ensuring she returned serve well and did not allow Pliskova to get the upper hand.

“I knew I have to return well today because she obviously has one of the best serves on tour,” Ostapenko said post-match. “I think I was returning very well today. Also, I had to hold my serve, which I did pretty good, just once in the first set I didn’t hold my serve.

Return and hold serve she did, winning 22 of a possible 30 points off her first serve at 73 per cent and backing it up with a 54 per cent ratio on the second serve, well above Pliskova’s 30 per cent winning rate on the second. Ostapenko hit 27 winners for 19 unforced errors, winning 54 per cent of her receiving points in a solid output.

“I think I was playing good today,” Ostapenko said. “I knew it was going to be a tough match, so I was trying to be very focused all match, playing my game. I tried to keep the ball in play to make sure I’m not missing and making too many unforced errors, but when I had the chance I was going for it.

“Obviously I knew she’s a great player so it’s going to be a tough match, but I think I played well today.”

While Pliskova credited Ostapenko’s effort, the Czech second seed was critical of her own game.

“I’m sure I could do much better,” Pliskova said. “I know that she can be tough if she’s playing well, but I think everything started with me. “I was definitely not playing great. “I think maybe same level as the match before, but of course she’s a much better player.”

Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna did not fare much better, ousted in straight sets by 11th seed Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, while seventh seed Petra Kvitova ran away with a solid victory over Jasmine Paolini and fourth seed Sofia Kenin was challenged by Ana Bogdan with a slow start, eventually running away with the 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory. Aryna Sabalenka also got the chocolates over Daria Kasatkina, as did Petra Martic and Ons Jabeur

Rybakina had a tough one against hometown hero Fiona Ferro, while Ferro’s fellow countrywoman, 19-year-old Clara Burel also head through to the next round, though the duo’s French compatriot Alize Cornet was not quite as lucky going down in the second set tiebreaker to Zhang Shuai. Paula Badosa was strong in her victory over Stephens, with the American unable to string together another win and joined on the sidelines by Christina McHale, whereas Danielle Collins was much more effective to head through to the Round of 32 alongside Kenin. In the remaining matches, Irina Bara heads through to the next round by default after Alison van Uytvanck retired mid-match, Laura Siegemund overcame a 1-6 start to reign supreme over Julia Goerges, and 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez defeated Polona Hercog.

Hibino edges out Ostapenko as seeds control proceedings

A HUGE day of quarter finals action at the 2020 Internationaux de Strasbourg saw a couple of intriguing names head through to the semis, as second and fifth seeds Elina Svitolina and Elena Rybakina continued their good form with respective straight sets victories, while Nao Hibino got the chocolates over a confident Jelena Ostapenko in a massive 7-6 7-6 close affair. The battle between Katerina Siniakova and Aryna Sabalenka was postponed with the continuation expected tomorrow morning, and Siniakova leading 6-2 1-2 prior to the weather disruption.

Rybakina will take on Hibino in the semi finals tomorrow, after the Japanese talent held her ground in an excellent upset effort against Ostapenko. Ostapenko had a great start with a 2-0 advantage early before Hibino bit back, and with that a see-sawing affair would not stop as neither player could hold onto the momentum to take out the first set.

On two occasions Ostapenko had a two-game lead and twice served for the set, before Hibino seemed to control proceedings to have three set points but forced into a tiebreaker. The tightness of the contest did not stop after the first set, with Hibino just making it over the line in what is surely a confidence-boosting win for the world number 84, who sees herself in her first WTA Tour semi final. 

Rybakina was convincing in her 6-3 6-2 demolition of Zhang Shuai, running away with victory in just 59 minutes and ruthless on the court. Hitting 21 winners and just eight unforced errors, Rybakina was clinical and continued her hard-hitting ways with six aces to just one double fault, winning 81 per cent of her first serve points. 

“It wasn’t easy. “Of course, it’s never easy,” Rybakina said post-match. “I played much better today than in my last match. “I’m pleased with my serve today. “It wasn’t easy. Of course, it’s never easy… I played much better today than in my last match. “I’m pleased with my serve today.

“With every win, you become more confident but I’m going to focus on the next match and we’ll see how we go.” 

Taking on the victor of the Siniakova-Sabalenka battle is Ukrainian Svitolina, after defeating Jil Teichmann 6-4 6-3. While Teichmann led much of the early stages of each set, Svitolina was clinical working her way back into the contest and fighting hard for her first semi final berth in six months. 

“I was down in the first set and I was not ‘on’ straight away, which really I think pushed me to raise my level and to try to find a way,” Svitolina told media after the match.

“Every single match, you have to raise your level to beat your opponent… especially when you are a top player. I think it was important to just raise my level, really fight for every single point and go for my opportunities.”

Svitolina’s consistency shone through is this matchup, and while she was not her cleanest she won the unforced error count 14-20  and was a fraction more convincing on serve with points won off 58 per cent of her attempts, about 10 per cent more than Teichmann.

Tough day at Strasbourg sees tiebreakers aplenty

DAY three of the Internationaux de Strasbourg saw the beginning of the Round of 16, with the two top seeds of the day in second seed Elina Svitolina and fifth seed Elena Rybakina heading through to the quarter finals. Qualifier Zhang Shuai and Jil Teichmann joined the duo in the next round after respective wins, with all four matches decided in straight sets but decidedly not easy victories, with each match featuring at least one tiebreaker.  

Svitolina was put through the ringer by Pole Magda Linette, only just coming away with the first set after a 7-6 (7-0) tiebreaker and relegated to a 1-4 start to the second as Linette continued to control proceedings. But the world number five would not let the win get away from her, working her way back into the match despite Linette’s heavy backhand hitting winners aplenty, eventually working back to 4-4. Linette managed to hold on and was serving for the set before Svitolina grabbed the momentum head on and wasted no time to storm through the last two games and come away with the 7-6 7-5 victory.

“It definitely was not easy,” Svitolina said post-match. “She was fighting back, she was trying to produce a good level; I was up and down. “It’s not easy to come from another tournament with different balls, different conditions. I was trying just to fight and in the end I was lucky I finished in two sets.”

Teichmann was given a tough time by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, eventually disposing of her higher ranked opposition in just under two hours, 7-6 7-5. The left-hander was far more clinical on both her service games and Pavlyuchenkova’s, making the most of the Russian’s double faults but it did not come easy. Teichmann will have another challenge when she takes on Svitolina in the quarter finals, with the two players coming away with almost identical win times and scores despite their differing contests.

Rybakina heads through to the next round to take on Zhang, and while she was in control early she had a tough second set against Alize Cornet, who battled hard in a huge second set but to no avail as the Kazakh pulled through for her first clay-court quarterfinal of the season. Cornet, a former winner here on home soil, fought back from match points the way of Rybakina on two separate occasions – 5-3 and 5-4 – in the huge comeback, charging through the remainder of the set but going down in the tiebreaker for a 6-3 7-6 (10-8) finish. 

“I was just focusing on every point, because it’s not the first time I’m actually up [in the score],” Rybakina told press after the match. “Last tournament in Rome, I was up, for example, and my concentration went down. I just knew that I had to focus on every point. It doesn’t matter, the score, just work every point and try to do my best.”

Frenchwoman Cornet was one of two homegrown talents to go down on the day, joined by teenager Clara Burel who was defeated by Zhang 6-3 7-6. Like Cornet, Burel sparked a comeback and was in touching distance of the quarter finals but could not finish the match against her far more experienced opposition despite winning more points off her first serve with 60 per cent compared to Zhang’s 51 per cent. Zhang capitalised off Burel’s weaker second serve, winning 73 per cent of the Frenchwoman’s second serve return points, and converted five of eight break points compared to Burel’s four of 15.

2020 Monterrey Open preview: Svitolina leads host of out-of-form stars at Monterrey

MOST of the tournament contenders at Monterrey, Mexico will hope to find form that has been lost over the past couple of months, with a former Grand Slam winner returning to the tour and others hoping to bounce back from a string of disappointing first round defeats in previous starts.

FAVOURITE:

Elina Svitolina (UKR)

The number one seed and tournament favourite has only won two matches in her seven past starts which gives an indication of how out-of-form and open this tournament is at Monterrey. The Ukrainian still remains inside the top 10, but since her back-to-back wins over Bibiane Schoofs (195th in the world) and Storm Sanders (319th) at Thailand, Svitolina has faltered in her Round of 32 matches at Dubai (Jennifer Brady) and Doha (Amanda Anisimova). She comes into the tournament surely confident of going deep given the field is equally out of sorts, and she will not want to slip outside the top 10 in the coming weeks. She did not play here so is free of defending points.

CONTENDERS:

Johanna Konta (GBR)

Another contender who did not play here last year, the world number 16 has been slipping down the order to 16th after a year-end ranking of 12th last season. Having reached a high of fourth back in 2017, Konta will hope to reverse the trend here, but her form is sub-par to say the least. She did battle with injury, resting herself from the Fed Cup early last month, but in her only match since, her loss to 159th ranked Oceane Dodin. First round losses to Ons Jabeur (Australian Open) and Barbora Strycova (Brisbane International) pre-dated that, but it is hoped with an extra week’s rest,

Sloane Stephens (USA)

As bad as Konta’s form has been, Stephens has found the going even tougher, bowing out to Liudmila Samsonova (129th in the world), Arina Rodionova (201st) and Renata Zarazua (270th) around a defeat at the hands of Zhang Shuai at Melbourne Park. There is little doubt Stephens has the talent to match and beat the very best – she did knock off Serena Williams at the US Open – but her recent form has seen her slip all the way out to 37th in the world, having missed out on winning a title in 2019 after being a Roland Garros finalist and winner at Miami in 2018. It seems that Stephens just needs to find her confidence again and this could be the perfect place to start against a field of players with similar woes in terms of form.

Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

The Grand Slam winner returns to Monterrey after having to retire in last year’s final, going down to Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza 6-1 3-1. She knocked off number one seed, Angelique Kerber in the semis and third seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter finals, so deserved her place in the final match of the tournament. Having not won a singles title since 2016, Azarenka is still on the comeback trail but the former world number one and two-time Australian Open winners is the best in the field if on-song. It is whether she can reach those heights, and given she has not played since the US Open last year, is still recovering from injury. She did defeat Belinda Bencic two starts back at Cincinnati – albeit due to a retirement – but how much that counts for now is yet to be seen.

ROUGHIE:

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)

The world 79 is another who is out of sorts, but at her best can really cause some headaches. She stunned Naomi Osaka at the Fed Cup to win 6-0 6-3 against the Grand Slam winner and top 10 player. Either side of that though, Sorribes Tormo lost to Ivana Popovic (459th in the world) and Sara Errani (185th) which shows the consistency is still not there. She is still 23-years-old and building, but just has to be more consistent on the WTA Tour to be a threat deep in tournaments.

DARK HORSE:

Leylah Fernandez (CAN)

The most in-form player of anyone, the Canadian avoided qualifying thanks to her final run at Acapulco and now enters the draw under a special exemption. Given the tennis she was able to play there – defeating three players in the top 100 – to reach the final before losing in three sets to world number 69, Heather Watson, she is every chance to go deep again here with a similar quality field. At 17-years-old, she is likely to have a massive future and showed it with a straight sets upset of Bencic at the Fed Cup. If she can keep it rolling, her 126th rank – which was 209th at the start of the year – will keep rising. Destined to be top 100 very soon, if not during this tournament.

2020 WTA Abierto Mexicano preview: Madison has the Keys to victory

MADISON Keys leads the field in the WTA International event in Acapulco, Mexico, where Sloane Stephens is the other top 30 prospect taking to the hard courts next week.

FAVOURITE:

Madison Keys (USA)

The standout prospect in the draw, Keys realistically should not have too many problems winning this title. All of her major rivals have had poor lead-ups to the tournament, and are far from consistent week-to-week. The 25-year-old is currently ranked 12th, and while she ran into a red-hot Maria Sakkari at Melbourne Park, her form in Brisbane the week earlier was as good as anyone. She lost to world number two, Karolina Pliskova in three sets in the final, having knocked off Petra Kvitova in the semis. Keys is also still in strong form over the past 12 months, winning two titles in Charleston and Cincinnati last year, both of which were on hard court. Coming in as the number one seed, Keys is the hunted, but if her form from Brisbane and even Melbourne holds up, then she is the one to beat and will be hard for someone to do so here.

CONTENDERS:

Sloane Stephens (USA)

Last year’s number one seed fell in the Round of 16 here in 2019, to lowly ranked Beatriz Haddad Maia. The now 26-year-old has had an up-and-down career having looked like a multiple Grand Slam winner having won the US Open as a 24-year-old. Having reached the top five over the past two years, she drifted out to 25th by year’s end in 2019. If 2020 form is anything to go by then it is not great reading. Losses to two players outside the top 100 in the lead-up to the Australian Open, then a loss to 35th ranked Zhang Shuai at Melbourne Park is the last match Stephens has played in the lead-up to Acapulco. The month’s rest since that loss at Melbourne Park will no doubt of given her a reset, and if she can find her tennis of 2018 – when she last won a title – she will go deep here. One thing going for Stephens is she is a past winner, having saluted in Acapulco back in 2016.

Wang Yafan (CHN)

The reigning champion claimed her maiden title here in Acapulco 12 months ago, and reached a career-high of 47th last year. The 25-year old Yafan defeated Sofia Kenin – who won a Grand Slam 12 months later – in the final – as well as Donna Vekic, Bianca Andreescu and Marie Bouzkova on her way to the title. It will take a good effort to knock off Keys here in Mexico, but the world number 57 should pick up the fourth seed in the draw which will help her avoid her until at least the semi-finals. Her form coming into Acapulco is something to forget, having only won one match this year – against Sara Sorribes Tormo in Shenzhen – and has since lost four straight matches. In fairness, three of those came against top 35 players in Elena Rybakina, Garbine Muguruza and Alison Riske, but her first round loss to 105th ranked Patricia Tig in Thailand was a disappointing lead-up event.

Marie Bouzkova (CZE)

In an open field, the tournament could see a first time winner claim the title, and 21-year-old Bouzkova is a player who has plenty of development left in her having risen into the top 100 over the past 18 months, and is eyeing off a top 50 spot. A deep surge here in Mexico and she could crack into the top 50, but will need to improve on her 2020 form. She is yet to win a main draw match this year, but also copped unfortunate first round draws in Brisbane (Keys) and Melbourne (Naomi Osaka). A disappointing loss to American Catherine Bellis – ranked 838th in the world at Hobart – as well as a loss to 377th ranked Francoise Abanda at the receive ITF tournament in Kentucky and her form is not ideal heading into the tournament.

ROUGHIE:

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)

The Spanish 23-year-old is underrated on the circuit and while she is still finding her feet in terms of consistency, she has what it takes to match it with the best. Sorribes Tormo beat Osaka in the Fed Cup 6-0 6-3 just a couple of weeks ago. Remarkably this came a week after somehow losing to 459th ranked Australian Ivana Popovic in three sets at an ITF60K event in Burnie. The literal definition of a wildcard, Sorribes Tormo could be bundled out in the first round or go the whole way. The Spaniard is yet to win a WTA Tour, having won a couple of doubles titles along the way.

DARK HORSE:

Venus Williams (USA)

The 39-year-old Grand Slam winner is well past her prime now, but having accepted a wildcard into the WTA International event, she is well up there in terms of her top quality. Given there is just three players inside the top 50 who will compete at the event, the evenness outside of Keys will give Williams every chance of going deep in the tournament. Ranked 66th in the world, she has only played one match this year – a loss to Coco Gauff in the first round of the Australian Open – and many predict she will retire within 12 months. But going out on a high could be a huge thing for Williams, especially considering she is one title away from her half century, though that has been the case for almost four years now.

Australian Open: Women’s Day 5 review – Three former winners out as draw opens up

THREE former Australian Open winners are out of the women’s draw on a day that wrecked absolute havoc on the top seeds in the competition.

While world number one, Ash Barty strolled through to the Round of 16 in her best performance yet, her 6-3 6-2 win over Elena Rybakina showed just how much the Kazakhstan 20-year-old had improved, and could improve in the future. Barty faces 18th seed American, Alison Riske in the Round of 16 after Riske defeated her German doubles partner, Julia Goerges. The American won 1-6 7-6 6-2, coming agonisingly close to being sent out in straight sets by the German, but instead turned it around to win the tiebreaker 7-4, then run away with it 6-2 in the final set. Her serving left a lot to be desired with 10 double faults and a 60 per cent efficiency, though it was higher than her opponents’ 51 per cent. She did capitalise on it when her serve went in, winning 71 per cent of her points on her first serve, while hitting 17 winners. Goerges had 42 winners but 45 unforced errors, and faded away late in the game.

In the other fourth round match of that quarter, seventh seed Petra Kvitova will take on 22nd seed, Maria Sakkari. Both players recorded straight sets wins, with Kvitova ending 25th seed Russian, Ekaterina Alexandrova’s unbeaten run in 2020 with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing to announce her title hopes. The match lasted just 58 minutes on Margaret Court Arena as the Czech won 84 per cent of her first serve points and 56 per cent of her second serve points. By comparison, her opponent won just 63 and 25 per cent respectively, and served five double faults in the process. Kvitova showed little mercy with 18 winners and only 10 unforced errors in the clash, while Alexandrova ended the game with 12 and 24 respectively. Four breaks to none and a 43 per cent success rate on receiving games, and it was just about the complete game from the Czech seed.

Sakkari did not have it quite as easy, causing an upset in the third round with her 6-4 6-4 victory over 10th seed, Madison Keys. The American was highly touted coming into the event and was considered one of the outside chances, but it was the up-and-coming Greek star who took the chocolates in an hour and 15 minutes. Sakkari did not serve an ace for the match and had a lower first serve winning percentage, but the difference was in her second serve success, with a 65 per cent winning record compared to Keys’ meagre 29 per cent. With nine winners but only 21 unforced errors, Sakkari played conservatively, while her opponent hit 17 winners but 40 unforced errors, including nine directly off the return. While Keys did break twice, Sakkari doubled that with four breaks from 10 opportunities to win a place in the Round of 16.

[1] A. Barty (AUS) defeated [29] E. Rybakina (KAZ) 6-3 6-2
[18] A. Riske (USA) defeated J. Goerges (GER) 1-6 7-6 6-2

[22] M. Sakkari (GRE) defeated [10] M. Keys (USA) 6-4 6-4

[7] P. Kvitova (CZE) defeated [25] E. Alexandrova (RUS) 6-1 6-2

In the upset of the day, 27th seed Wang Qiang downed 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in an amazing three-set victory for the ages. In a strange turn of events, she will face Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur who also defeated a Grand Slam winner at Melbourne Park, downing Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in her last professional tennis match. Jabeur won 7-5 3-6 7-5 in two hours and seven minutes, hitting six aces and winning 73 per cent of her first serve points. During the match she overpowered Wozniacki, who managed just the nine winners, while the Tunisian winner recorded a massive 43 herself, though with 60 unforced errors. It was not the cleanest tennis going around, but Jabeur broke five times to four and won 74 per cent of her points at the net to book a spot in the Round of 16.

As if not to be outdone by Qiang, Coco Gauff decided to throw another spanner in the works of this quarter of the draw, downing reigning champion and third seed, Naomi Osaka in straight sets. The 15-year-old sensation won 6-3 6-4 in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena to break the draw wide open. She needed just an hour and seven minutes to defeat the Japanese star, winning 76 and 64 per cent of her first and second serves, though her first srve was particularly damaging. Osaka was dominant at the net and had more aces and winers, but also more unforced errors as Gauff played some inspired tennis, particularly off the backhand. In a moment to savour, the American young gun was overcome after match points, shocked that she was able to win after losing here first round in juniors two years ago. She now is into the last 16 in a remarkable rise to fame over the past 12 months.

The teenager now faces compatriot, Sofia Kenin after the 14th seed defeated Zhang Shuai in two tight sets. Kenin won 7-5 7-6 in two hours and two minutes with both players trading set points in the second set tiebreaker. In the end, it was Kenin who got up, coming from 7-6 down to win the last three points of the match and book a spot in the Round of 16. Both players were evenly poised with Kenin marginally ahead in winners (34-30) but Shuai having less unforced errors (30-33). Both players had chances to break with Kenin one more than her opponent with four for the match. She also recorded a 75 per cent first serve efficiency and was stronger on her second serve, winning 64 per cent of those points compared to Shuai’s 46 per cent.

C. Gauff (USA) defeated [3] N. Osaka (JPN) 6-3 6-4
[14] S. Kenin (USA) defeated S. Zhang (CHN) 7-5 7-6
O. Jabeur (TUN) defeated C. Wozniacki (DEN) 7-5 3-6 7-5
[27] Q. Wang (CHN) defeated [8] S. Williams (USA) 6-4 6-7 7-5

Australian Open: Women’s Day 3 review – Goerges through to Round of 32 as big guns send message

BELGIAN, Julia Goerges is through to the Round of 32 after a commanding three-set win over 13th seed Croatian, Petra Martic. She joined a host of big names from the women’s draw in the third round, with the other half of Round 2 to be completed today, weather permitting.

Goerges once again proved she can be quite the handful for highly ranked players, causing the upset of the day by downing Martic. The world number 39 was not far off receiving her own seeding, but showed why she can compete with the best during a come-from-behind three-set win over the Croatian. The German served up 13 aces and only dropped eight points on her first serve, producing a massive 44 winners and using the court well when approaching the net. She broke three times to Martic’s twice, while Martic could not have the same impact on serve. In the end, Goerges moved into the third round thanks to the 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory.

American 18th seed Alison Riske had an easier path into the final 32, defeating China’s Zhu Lin 6-3 6-1 in 61 minutes. Riske was consistent on-serve without dominating, winning 69 and 68 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively. She also broke five times from eight opportunities and won more than half of her receiving points which put Lin on the back foot. Lin hit just the nine winners and 24 unforced errors in the straight sets loss.

At the top of the draw, world number one Ash Barty rode the home crowd support on her way to a straight sets win over Polona Hercog. The Australian star meets young gun, Elena Rybakina in the third round after the 29th seed posted a 6-3 6-4 victory over Belgian qualifier, Greet Minnen. The match lasted an hour and 14 minutes before the 20-year-old ended the qualifier’s run at the Australian Open, winning an elite 87 per cent of her first serves, and claiming three breaks during the match. While she hit 31 unforced errors, her 28 winners made up for it, claiming the clutch games in the win despite only winning seven more points than her opponent.

[1] A. Barty (AUS) defeated P. Hercog (SLO) 6-1 6-4
[29] E. Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [Q] G. Minnen (BEL) 6-3 6-4
[18] A. Riske (USA) defeated L. Zhu (CHN) 6-3 6-1
J. Goerges (GER) defeated [13] P. Martic (CRO) 4-6 6-3 7-5

First up on Wednesday was seventh seed, Petra Kvitova up against Spaniard, Paula Badosa with both players having dropped just one solitary game in their first round matches. The Grand Slam winner and top 10 Czech proved to be that bit better for longer in the 7-5 7-5 victory, serving seven aces to three and hitting 31 winners to 19. Kvitova also won 40 per cent of her receiving points, while capitalising on 72 per cent of her first serve points compared to her opponents’ 60 per cent. The left handed star moved through to the Round of 32 to play the unbeaten in 2020 Russian, Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The 25th seed has not lost in more than 100 days after back-to-back titles at Limoges and then Shenzhen heading into the Australian Open. Alexandrova easily accounted for Czech qualifier, Barbora Krejcikova 6-1 6-3 in 63 minutes. She broke four times from her four opportunities, while Krejcikova did not manage to break from the same amount of chances. The in-form Russian was more dominant on serve with an 82 per cent winning rate, and attacked her opponent’s second serve, winning 12 of the 14 points off it. Hitting 12 winners and 26 unforced errors, she will need to take her game to another level against Kvitova.

The other top 10 seed to move through to the final 32 is American, Madison Keys who dispatched Russian, Daria Kasatkina in under an hour. Keys posted a 6-3 6-1 victory in 57 minutes, hitting an impressive 29 winners to five, including eight off the return. She was not overly dominant on serve despite the score, but instead took control when her opponent was serving, reducing her to a 43 and 32 per cent winning rate on her first and second serves. She sets up a huge clash with 22nd seed, Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Sakkari had to fight hard against a determined Nao Hibino, but eventually downed the Japanese qualifier 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 43 minutes. Sakkari served up nine aces and 31 winners on her way to victory, not always looking clean with 44 unforced errors and a low serving success rate (63 and 54 per cent on her first and second serve), but she reduced her opponent to 56 and 52 per cent success on her first and second serves. Sakkari also critically broke three times to twice, but will have to lift her game to match it with Keys given Hibino had 10 break point opportunities to seven, and the Greek talent could not afford to give a top 10 player those kind of looks.

[10] M. Keys (USA) defeated A. Rus (NED) 7-6 6-2
[22] M. Sakkari (GRE) defeated [Q] N. Hibino (JPN) 7-6 6-4
[25] E. Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [Q] B. Krejcikova (CZE) 6-1 6-3
[7] P. Kvitova (CZE) defeated P. Badosa (ESP) 7-5 7-5

Third seed Naomi Osaka worked her way into the third round without too much trouble, defeating China’s Zheng Saisai 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes. Her win sets up an exciting Round of 32 clash with American young gun, Coco Gauff. The 15-year-old American had to fight back from a set down against Romanian, Sonia Cirstea in a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory. Despite nine double faults, Gauff hit 30 winners and broke three times throughout the clash, stronger with her first serve as well (73 per cent to 66 per cent).

Fellow American Sofia Kenin made a statement against another up-and-coming youngster in Ann Li, defeating the 19-year-old qualifier 6-1 6-3. Kenin won 79 per cent of her first serves compared to Li’s 44 per cent and hit just 19 unforced errors throughout the match. Five breaks to one was a key difference in the clash, but Kenin always looked comfortable and booked a third round spot to face China’s Zhang Shuai.

The world number 35 narrowly missed out on a seeding at this year’s Australian Open, but Shuai worked her way into the Round of 32 with a 6-2 6-4 victory over another American, qualifier Catherine McNally. Shuai hit just 12 winners for the match but won 69 per cent of her first serve points controlling play and breaking five times compared to her opponents’ twice.

[3] N. Osaka (JPN) defeated S. Zheng (CHN) 6-2 6-4
C. Gauff (USA) defeated S. Cirstea (ROU) 4-6 6-3 7-5
S. Zhang (CHN) defeated [Q] C. McNally (USA) 6-2 6-4
[14] A. Kenin (USA) defeated [Q] A. Li (USA) 6-1 6-3

Ons Jabeur‘s dream run at the Australian Open continued with the world number 78 defeating Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia in three sets. After dropping the first set 6-1, Jabeur hit back and ran out the stronger of the pair 1-6 6-2 6-3 to book a spot in the Round of 32. With 24 winners and a 65 per cent first serve winning percentage, it was enough for Jabeur to get the job done, though she will want to improve on her effort that saw her record just 44 per cent efficiency with her first serve and was broken four times. She now faces 2018 Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, which is another step up again.

Wozniacki made her way into the third round after a two-hour tussle with 23rd seed and Adelaide International finalist, Dayana Yastremska. The 19-year-old Ukrainian is a star of the future, but the 29-year-old Dane reminded spectators of what she is capable of, winning 62 per cent of her first serve and nine of 12 points at the net. She only hit the 15 winners, but like in her first round win, Wozniacki was more economical than a hard hitter, while Yastremska threw caution to the wind with 36 winners and 47 unforced errors.

A potential fourth round opponent for the 2018 Open winner is a player who has had no problems going all the way before in Serena Williams. The eighth seed was simply too strong and too good for Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, pouncing out a 6-2 6-3 win. Before she can face Wozniacki, the multiple Grand Slam winner has to face 27th seed, Wang Qiang who defeated France’s Fiona Ferro in straight sets, 6-1 6-2. Qiang won 68 and 74 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively, only dropping a total of 13 points for the entire match. She also claimed 55 per cent of her receiving points in a dominant display, restricting Ferro to just 31 points for the match.

O. Jabeur (TUN) defeated C. Garcia (FRA) 1-6 6-2 6-3
C. Wozniacki (DEN) defeated [23] D. Yastremska (UKR) 7-5 7-5
[27] Q. Wang (CHN) defeated F. Ferro (FRA) 6-1 6-2
[8] S. Williams (USA) defeated T. Zidansek (SLO) 6-2 6-3

Australian Open: Women’s Day 1 review – Barty fights as others breeze through to next round

IT was a huge opening day of the Australian Open with some simply outstanding individual performances. Plenty of seeds moved through to Round 2, while some matches were delayed due to adverse weather conditions. We recap all the matches that went down on Monday.

World number one, Ash Barty has advanced to the second round after a scare from former top 30 player Lesia Tsurenko to post a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory. As predicted in the Day 1 must-watch matches piece yesterday, Barty was always going to have a fight on her hands from the Ukrainian. It showed in the first set when Tsurenko just made the most of her break point opportunities with three breaks to Barty’s two, and targeting the Australian’s second serve (77 per cent success). She won 45 per cent of her own second serves in that time, and while she hit less winners (five to 11) she also hit less unforced errors (11 to 19) in what proved to be an uncharacteristic set from Barty. The Australian resettled and got on with it after that, only hitting another 11 unforced errors for the match as her serve picked up, and she began to control proceedings with eight successful approaches at the net. She won 78 per cent of her first serves, losing just four points on her first serve in the last two sets. A total of 10 aces for the match sealed a solid first round win as Tsurenko’s nine double faults did not help the underdog.

In the bottom half of the eighth, 18th seed American Alison Riske leads her Chinese opponent, Wang Yafan 7-6 before the match was suspended. If Yafan can mount a comeback, she could set up an all-Chinese battle in the second round after Zhu Lin downed Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, 4-6 6-1 7-6. The match became so tight in the end the super tiebreak had to be enacted, with Lin getting up 10-5 in that tiebreak. Golubic was her own worst enemy in the match, producing eight double faults and winning just 44 per cent of her serving points. Usually this would spell a straight sets defeat, but she broke a remarkable seven times as Lin’s serving was far from perfect either with just over half of her on-serve points going her way. Golubic’s net work was superb with 81 per cent success rate, while Lin broke nine times and hit 13 more winners, though both players were sloppy with a combined 93 unforced errors in the match.

A couple of smashings rounded out the top eighth of the women’s draw with 13th seed Croatian, Petra Martic sending American Christina McHale packing, 6-3 6-0. Martic was solid across the board with 22 winners and as many unforced errors, taking her chances with her serve and volley game. She won 75 per cent of her net points with 27 points to three compared to her opponent upon approach. She broke four times from eight opportunities, while McHale could not capitalise from four of her own break point opportunities. It was one-way traffic for the majority of the match and Martic comfortably ran out the winner to advance through to the next round.

Martic now takes on Germany’s Julia Goerges who will not be an easy task after Goerges down Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-1 6-2 in 56 minutes. Ten years her senior, Goerges showed all her experience and ability on her way to serving nine aces and hitting 21 winners on the day. She also only dropped 10 points on-serve and did not provide a break point opportunity for her 21-year-old opponent, instead breaking four of a possible six times herself. She was sensible with just 10 unforced errors for the match, and was so dominant that she only hit eight less winners than Kuzmova won in total points. It sets up a ripping contest between Goerges and Martic in the second round to be played tomorrow.

[1] A. Barty (AUS) defeated L. Tsurenko (UKR) 5-7 6-1 6-1
P. Hercog (SLO) vs. R. Peterson (SWE)
A. Sasnovich (BLR) vs. [Q] G. Minnen (BEL)
B. Pera (USA) vs. [29] E. Rybakina (KAZ)
[18] A. Riske (USA) leads Y. Wang (CHN) 7-6 SUSPENDED
L. Zhu (CHN) defeated V. Golubic (SUI) 4-6 6-1 7-6
J. Goerges (GER) defeated V. Kuzmova (SVK) 6-1 6-2
[13] P. Martic (CRO) defeated C. McHale (USA) 6-3 6-0

The second eighth of the women’s draw had four completed matches – allowing all the second round matches from that section to be able to go ahead in the coming days if need be. The in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova toppled Switzerland’s up-and-coming 22-year-old in Jil Teichmann 6-4 4-6 6-2 to move clear of their head-to-head battles. It was far from the domination she has showed in recent weeks, but the Russian was able to get the job done, smashing her way to an impressive 36 winners – including five off the return – while claiming 71 per cent of her net points. Teichmann hit 18 winners but was loose with her shotmaking, producing 35 unforced errors at the same time. She also only won 51 per cent of her first serve points, with Alexandrova’s serving game not one the Russian will be fond of. She only recorded a first serve percentage of 49 per cent, and while she was able to win 70 per cent of her first serve points, capitalised mostly off her break point opportunities, where she broke eight times throughout the match.

Alexandrova now takes on Czech qualifier, Barbora Krejcikova who defeated Estonian, Kaia Kanepi in the first round. She only just got there with a narrow tiebreaker win in the first set, then bounced back from a disappointing second set to triumph, 7-6 2-6 6-3 in two and a half hours. Both players served six aces, and Kanepi had more break points, as well as less unforced errors, but was not as consistent on her serve. Krejcikova won 68 per cent of her first serve points, and was stronger at the net with 65 per cent success. She also hit 44 winners from her 99 total points, taking her chances when they came with four breaks from six opportunities. It was not the most clinical performance but she moves through to the Round of 64.

The final two matches in the section were complete blowouts with seventh seed, Petra Kvitova needing just 50 minutes to send 23-year-old Czech, Katerina Siniakova home, 6-1 6-0. It was a complete domination by Kvitova who dusted off the cobwebs at Melbourne park with a ridiculous number of winners (20) and serving percentages that anyone would be proud of. Kvitova won 78 per cent of her first serves and 83 per cent of her second serve points, only losing a total of seven points on serve for the whole match. She saved Siniakova’s only break point opportunity, while pouncing on six of nine for her self in the rout. Her net work was superb with 11 of her 12 approaches successful, while winning a massive 57 per cent of her receiving points.

Despite the domination by Kvitova, her next opponent had just as easy time, with Spain’s Paula Badosa shocking former top 20 player, Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-0. The result was not so much a shock for the 95th ranked Spaniard, but the manner of how it came about was, with Larsson showing great form in qualifying only to be bundled out in just 57 minutes of action. Badosa looked good on serve, winning 81 per cent of her first serves, and saving all three break point opportunities from the Swede. The Spaniard hit 27 winners and only 13 unforced errors, while claiming 71 per cent of her net points. She has a huge task in the next round but comes in with good form.

[10] M. Keys (USA) vs. D. Kasatkina (RUS)
M. Linette (POL) vs. A. Rus (NED)
[Q] N. Hibino (JPN) vs. S. Peng (CHN)
M. Gasparyan (RUS) vs. [22] M. Sakkari (GRE)
[25] E. Alexandrova (RUS) defeated J. Teichmann (SUI) 6-4 4-6 6-2
[Q] B. Krejcikova (CZE) defeated K. Kanepi (EST) 7-6 2-6 6-3
P. Badosa (ESP) defeated [Q] J. Larsson (SWE) 6-1 6-0
[7] P. Kvitova (CZE) defeated K. Siniakova (CZE) 6-1 6-0

Of the 128 scheduled matches between the men’s and women’s draw, the third eighth of the women’s Day 1 schedule was the only completed section. It helped that seven of the eight games were in straight sets, with only 24th seed Sloane Stephens‘ disappointing loss the exception. The American went down to Zhang Shuai of China after winning the first set 6-2, losing 2-6 7-5 6-2 in a capitulation not overly surprising considering the 26-year-old’s recent form. Shuai was simply better and full credit to the Chinese hitter, producing 41 winners to Stephens’ 28, dialing it back after the first set with 13 unforced errors costing her. Shuai broke six times to Stephens’ five, but ran away with the contest in the last set, serving at 87 per cent, breaking three times from three opportunities, and hitting a massive 14 winners and zero unforced errors in a clean display.

Shuai booked a spot in the second round against American qualifier Christine McNally who had the fortunate luck of drawing Sam Stosur in the first round of the Australian Open. Unfortunately for Stosur, her struggles at Melbourne Park are well documented and often the criticism is unfair of those who only watch her over the Australian summer. She is a US Open winner – defeating Serena Williams no less – and has made a Roland Garros final. Unfortunately for Stosur, this year marks the fifth consecutive year she has bowed out in the first round of her home Grand Slam and it seems unlikely the external, and clearly by now, internal pressure valve will ever be released. That is not to take anything away from McNally who won 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 39 minutes. She hit 22 winners and 22 unforced errors, breaking five times and being more consistent on her first serve than Stosur. The Australian hit one additional winner, but a clumsy 39 unforced errors, breaking just once from the same amount of opportunities as her opponent – 12 – while recording winning serve percentages of just 52 and 43 on her first and second serve.

It was a good section for the Americans and not so much the home nation, as qualifier Ann Li doubled down on the success with a 7-6 7-6 victory over Australian wildcard, Lizette Cabrera. The Australian had a couple of set points in the second set and had a led by as much as 5-2 at one stage in that set, but the Wimbledon Junior runner-up kept coming and twice forced her way back into the second tiebreaker, claiming victory 12-10 in the end to advance through to the next round. Neither player was clean with the match at times resembling more of a whoever missed least would win. A combined 97 unforced errors showed that both players were going for too much, but at least Li hit 32 winners to Cabrera’s nine. In the end though, Li won just six more points in a thriller not for the quality but for the closeness, though the 19-year-old will want to be a lot cleaner in the next round when she faces countrywoman Sofia Kenin.

The 14th seed was strong in her first match downing Italian qualifier, Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-4. Kenin only hit the 13 winners but produced just the 21 unforced errors, breaking her opponent five times to keep her at bay. Trevisan had her share of winners too – 11 – though she struggled on-serve, winning just 52 and 38 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively. She showed good strength at the net, but just lacked the extra class that the American had. It sets up an all-American battle in the Round of 64, with Kenin predicted to use all her experience to see off Li.

The most talked about women’s match of the day was 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s rematch with 39-year-old Grand Slam winner, Venus Williams. Much like the first round of Wimbledon, Gauff came out on top in straight sets, downing Williams 7-6 6-3 to move through to the next round. Both players won 77 per cent of their first serve points, but it was Gauff who was stronger on her second serve, triumphing 61 per cent of the time to Williams’ 40 per cent. She also hit less unforced errors (30 to 41) and while she hit less winners (17 to 24), showed power with her serve and continued to give the expectation that she will be a Rising Star in the tennis world soon enough.

Gauff’s next task is against Romania’s Sonia Cirstea who bundled out 32nd seed, Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The world number 74 won 6-2 7-6, just getting up in the second set tiebreaker to avoid a deciding set. It was a case of taking her chances, and Cirstea broke four times while hitting 32 winners and winning 43 per cent of her receiving points. Both had a terrific battle when approaching the net, winning more than two thirds of their points, but Strycova could not capitalise on her high 77 per cent first serve ratio, with just over half of her first and second serve points won.

It was no surprise to see world number three and reigning champion Naomi Osaka advance through to the second round without too much trouble. She downed 21-year-old Czech, Marie Bouzkova 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes, seven seven aces and dominating the play off her racket. She hit 29 winners and 28 unforced errors to her opponents’ 12 and 13 respectively, but the up-and-coming Japanese star was impenetrable off her serve with a 74 per cent winning ratio on her first serve and then capitalising with 88 per cent of her net points. She also broke four times to her opponents’ one, and looked in control most of the time. Osaka advanced through to face Zheng Saisai who knocked off Russian qualifier, Anna Kalinskaya.

Saisai is ranked 41st in the world and showed some powerful hitting in her 6-3 6-2 win over Kalinskaya to give Osaka the indication not to underestimate her. She hit 27 winners and only 14 unforced errors as she dominated first serve points (77 to 51 per cent), while breaking four times and controlling the play at the net with a 74 per cent success rate when appraching. Kalinskaya managed to get 77 per cent of her first serves in, but struggled with only half of her service points won.

[3] N. Osaka (JPN) defeated M. Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2 6-4
S. Zheng (CHN) defeated [Q] A. Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3 6-2
C. Gauff (USA) defeated V. Williams (USA) 7-6 6-3
S. Cirstea (ROU) defeated [32] B. Strycova (CZE) 6-2 7-6
S. Zhang (CHN) defeated [24] S. Stephens (USA) 2-6 7-5 6-2
[Q] C. McNally (USA) defeated S. Stosur (AUS) 6-1 6-4
[Q] A. Li (USA) defeated [WC] L. Cabrera (AUS) 7-6 7-6
[14] S. Kenin (USA) defeated [Q] M. Trevisan (ITA) 6-2 6-4

The last eighth that was started had just three completed matches – all one-sided smashings – which saw two past Australian Open winners advance through to the next round. Eighth seed and tournament favourite, Serena Williams barely broke a sweat winning the first set 6-0 in 19 minutes before completing the 6-0 6-3 rout of Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in just under an hour. In that time, Williams served nine aces and hit 24 winners – including four off the return – as well as breaking five times from six opportunities. Potapova was helpless to stop the up-and-about Williams who was simply clinical, particularly in the first set where she sent a message to her rivals.

The 2018 Australian Open winner, Caroline Wozniacki cruised through in similar circumstances, downing Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes. Wozniacki does not have the same powerful serving ability that Williams has, but she is a clean shot maker who is able to return well and put pressure on her opponent. She created 15 break point opportunities, seizing five of them, while hitting just 11 unforced errors for the match, despite only seven winners. Wozniacki did what she had to do in the victory, while Ahn tried her best with 19 winners, though hit 34 unforced errors as she tried to find a way to outsmart the former world number one.

In the other match, Tamara Zidansek has the fruitless task of trying to stop Williams following her win over South Korean, Na Lae Han 6-3 6-3. Ranked 64th in the world, the Slovenian had no troubles defeating the world number 177th who earned a spot in the main draw via an Asian wildcard. It was far from clinical however, as Zidansek hit 20 unforced errors to accompany her 15 winners. It was more the case of Han being more error-riddled, producing 31 unforced errors for 11 winners. Zidansek was strong at the net, winning 67 per cent of the time, while breaking six times to her opponents’ three. If she has any chance of upsetting Williams however, she will need to improve substantially.

[12] J. Konta (GBR) vs. O. Jabeur (TUN)
M. Brengle (USA) vs. C. Garcia (FRA)
C. Wozniacki (DEN) defeated K. Ahn (USA) 6-1 6-3
[23] D. Yastremska (UKR) vs. [Q] K. Juvan (SLO)
[27] Q. Wang (CHN) vs. [WC] P. Parmentier (FRA)
F. Ferro (FRA) vs. A. Van Uytvanck (BEL)
T. Zidansek (SLO) defeated [WC] N. Han (KOR) 6-3 6-3
[8] S. Williams (USA) defeated A. Potapova (RUS) 6-0 6-3