TENNIS – Petra Kvitova, 2-time and defending Wimbledon champion is making light work of the draw thus far dropping just 3 games through 2 round of play at these championships. Also showing signs of impressive play is Aga Radwanska who was equally impressive in her match. Cordell Hackshaw
Petra Kvitova (2) is looking very much on track to defend her 2014 Wimbledon title. She took on the tricky opponent Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-0. Considering that Kvitova took care of her 1st round opponent in 35 minutes, the 68 minutes that it took to take care of Nara, seemed a marathon. However, Kvitova’s numbers were just as impressive. She had 10 aces, 23 winners and 14 errors. The Nara’s game never made an impression on Kvitova. The Japanese was only limited to 3 winners for the entire match.
“I’m just glad that I won. That’s important, you know, counting is the last point. I still have a lot of space where I can improve for the next match. That’s a good sign, as well. Of course, the next match will be tough again, and tougher and tougher, if I’m going to stay in the tournament. I have to be prepared for everything,” Kvitova said after the match.
Also looking in great form is the 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska (13). Radwanska has struggled mightily this year after making the Round of 16 at the Australian Open this year and her much publicized brief spell under the tutelage of Martina Navratilova. However, last week, it seems as though the Polish player is back to good form with a run to the final in Eastbourne. In the 2nd round here at Wimbledon, Radwanska dismantled Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0 6-2 in 46 minutes. Radwanska broke Tomljanovic 6 times whereas the Australian was only able to break once. Both players had 10 winners but but it was the errors that was the deciding factor. Radwanska only committed 5 compared to the 24 from Tomljanovic.
Speaking on the matter, Radwanska had this to say of her year, “Well, I think it was maybe bad timing to hire her when I really had ‑‑ I didn’t feel good. I was a little bit exhausted. I had a couple really tough months. It was the same time she was working with me. Well, now I think, first of all, I’m just feeling much better. I think also grass changed everything, as well. Helps me go to my best level I can play tennis.”
Caroline Wozniacki (5) stumbled in her match against Denisa Allertova as she raced out to a 6-1 5-1 but could not close it out. Twice the Dane served for the match and could not get the job done as Allertova broke each time. Soon it was Wozniacki serving to stay in the set as Allertova got up 6-5. However, Wozniacki was able to push the set to a tiebreaker and take it 8-6 points; Wozniacki 6-1 7-6(6).
Angelique Kerber (10) did not have a quick match today as she did in her 1st round match but she was able to get through in straight sets over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-2. Both Madison Keys (21) and Elizaveta Kulichkova had to play yesterday in an effort to finish up their 1st round matches suspended on Day 2 because of poor lighting. Interestingly enough, they had to play each other for a place in the 3rd round. Keys got through the match in relative ease 6-4 7-6 and has definitely set herself up as a possible contender here at this event.
There were several minor upsets on Day 4 though they were no where as shocking as Day 2 when Simona Halep and Genie Bouchard were bounced out of the event. Most interesting of the seeded players sent home was Ekaterina Makarova (8) who has recently been playing very well at the majors. Her run of making the 2nd week of better stretching back to last year’s Wimbledon, including two consecutive semifinal appearances from the US Open last year to this year’s Australian Open, has ended abruptly. The Russian was summarily dismissed by Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 7-5. The Slovakian had never won a match at Wimbledon in her entire career, 0-7 at the start of this tournament. Now, she is in the 3rd round and has a legitimate shot at making the 2nd week when she plays Olga Govortsova who knocked out Alizé Cornet (25) in 3 sets 7-6 2-6 6-1. Perhaps it was the pressure of getting back to the 2nd week of Wimbledon as she did last year when she knocked out Serena Williams in the 3rd round, but Cornet just never looked comfortable in this match. Elina Svitolina (17) quarterfinalist at this year’s French Open was also knocked out. She lost to Casey Dellacqua 6-7 3-6.
SURPRISES AND OTHER WINNERS
French Open semifinalist, Timea Bacsinszky (15) is riding on confidence and as she stormed her way into the 3rd round of Wimbledon over Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-2 6-1. Bacsinszky who was playing qualifications last year, is looking to make some major noise here. Camila Giorgi (31) is through to the 3rd round when she also knocked out a Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-0 7-6. Giorgi will take on Wozniacki for a place in the 4th round.
Sabine Lisicki (18), finalist here back in 2013, had to dig deep against her opponent, American Christina McHale. McHale took the opening set 6-2 and was on serve through to the 11th game. However, serving to stay in the set, McHale just lost her way in the match and Lisicki took full control. Lisicki broke to take the 2nd set 7-5 and dropped just a single game in the 3rd set to take the match 2-6 7-5 6-1. Lisicki will take on Bacsinszky in the 3rd round.
Jelena Jankovic (28) and Garbine Muguruza (20) needed three sets to get through to the next round. Jankovic got by Evgeniya Rodina 6-7 6-1 6-3. Muguruza had a tougher fight against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3 4-6 6-2. Svetlana Kuznetsova (26) went off the rails against Kristyna Pliskova, identical twin sister to 11th seed Karolina Pliskova. Kuznetsova took the 1st set but then began being erratic. Kristyna took advantage of this and seized control of the match taking early breaks in the next two sets. She won 3-6 6-3 6-4.
As is often the case, players who score big upsets, fail to win their next match. Jana Cepelova and Ying-Ying Duan who knocked out Halep and Bouchard respectively were both knocked out in the 2nd round. Monica Niculescu beat Cepelova 6-3 6-3 and Tatjana Maria took out Duan 1-6 6-2 10-8.
Victoria Azarenka Cruises Past Svitolina To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The former champion produced a ruthless display to book her place in the last 16.
Victoria Azarenka is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 15th seed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 in 67 minutes.
Facing a top 20 player at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016, the world No.25 hit 17 winners and four aces in the win. Azarenka, who is one of only eight active players to have won more than 100 Grand Slam main draw matches, improving her record against Ukrainian players to 16-1.
“I thought I was really well-executing my game plan. I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on her and kind of not let her come into the match,” said Azarenka. “She’s an amazing fighter. I know if I give her a little room, she’s going to get back out there. That was my purpose today, and I think I executed that well.”
It was the number 24 seed with the better start to the match and ashe played aggressively from the word go. Earning three chances to break in the very first game and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break, Azarenka was hungry for more and she got another chance to go up a double break and broke once again with a stunning forehand winner.
at 4-0, the Belorussian continued to dominate and broke Svitolina’s serve once more this time with a backhand winner down the line before serving out the first set to take it 6-0 in 25 minutes flat.
The first game of the second set was a carbon copy of the opening of the first set with Azarenka breaking once again to take a 1-0 lead and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the number 24 seed went up a double break to lead 5-2.
The last game was a long affair with the Ukrainian starting to find her game and it went back and forth with the Belorussian looking to seal the win while Svitolina pushed back to stay alive.
It took six match points and saving three break points before Azarenka was able to serve it out and take the win. She will now face Barbora Krejickova who defeated Jelena Ostapenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“The rise of Barbora has been pretty incredible over the last year and a half, basically since COVID. She seems to kind of elevate her game more and more. She has all the good tools to play,” the two-time champion said of her next oponent.
“She can play aggressive, she can mix it up. A very dangerous player. We played once in Ostrava. It was pretty tight match and really good quality.” She added.
Naomi Osaka Overcomes Second Set Scare To Reach Last 32 At Australian Open
Naomi Osaka is into the last 32 of the Australian Open where Amanda Anisimova awaits.
Two-time champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second set scare to defeat Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4 to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Osaka overcame a second set scare as she produced another dominant display of power to reach the last 32 against the unconventional American.
The world number 14 is looking for her fourth grand slam title in Melbourne.
Next for Osaka is Amanda Anisimova who beat a physically compromised Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-5.
It was a lightening quick start from Osaka who took the opening set in 20 minutes.
A display of power, accuracy and pace saw Brengle struggling to gain points on her service games.
The American isn’t a player who is going to hit you off the court and her shots were way too conservative against a player like Osaka who hits the ball so cleanly from the baseline.
Brengle came close but no reward as Osaka reeled off seven games in a row to take a 6-0 1-0 lead.
However Brengle eventually settled into her rhythm and to her obvious delight was ecstatic to win her first game of the match.
This relaxation allowed her to play with complete freedom as she started to use a lot of depth, angles and topspin to disrupt Osaka’s rhythm, who’s level dropped slightly.
Brengle created nine break points which Osaka saved with aggression and precison but on the tenth one, the American eventually broke to go a break up in the second set.
The American’s smile said it all as she was now in command of the second set but that didn’t last long.
That’s as Osaka used her champion’s skills to grind the break back and then went on a run of eight consecutive points to seal victory and a spot in the third round.
After the match Osaka spoke about her return game and the prospects of facing Amanda Anisimova in the next round, “I honestly want to say I returned pretty well,” Osaka admitted in her on-court interview.
“Been really working on it in the off-season. I’m trying not to [rate my level] if I compare myself to the past I will never be satisfied. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.
“I think we’re both going to take our chances. It’s very interesting to play against the younger players because I remember being a younger player myself and having nothing to lose.”
Friday’s meeting between the two players will be the first time they have faced each other.
Aryna Sabalenka Survives Sanders Scare At Australian Open
The Belarussian was made to work hard during her opening match at Melbourne Park.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka came back from the brink of defeat to seal her spot in the second round of the Australian Open.
The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist struggled with her consistency throughout her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, win over wild card Storm Saunders, who is yet to win a Grand Slam main draw match in her career. At one stage Sabalenka looked to be on the verge of suffering a third consecutive Tour defeat after trailing by a set and a break to the underdog before staging an emphatic fight back. Doing so with the help of her rival who started to unravel as the match progressed.
“She played well, she’s a tough opponent and I’m happy I won today,” Sabalenka said of Sanders during her on-court interview.
Sabalenka’s roller-coaster victory is best illustrated by the match statistics. Dealing with inconsistencies in her serve, she produced a total of 12 double faults and won 43% of her second service points. Furthermore, she hit a total of 29 winners against 37 unforced errors en route to the victory.
Playing a top 10 player for only the second time in her career, 27-year-old Sanders started the match in clinical fashion as she produced a level of tennis which exceeded that of her current ranking. Three consecutive times she managed to dismantle the Sabalenka serve to open up a swift 4-1 lead. However, the second seed briefly managed to find her footing in the match to claw her way back and level the set at 5-5. Not to be disheartened, Sanders continued pressing her opponent who faltered at the worst possible moment. Granting the underdog another break before she closed out the set.
On the verge of suffering an upset, Sabalenka’s woes continued in the second set when she got broken once again three games in. Trailing 5-7, 1-3, she managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a six-game winning streak. Exposing the inexperienced her opponent has of playing on the biggest stages of the game. Serving to level up, she triumphed on her third set point with the help of a serve down the center of the court which Sanders returned out.
Into her stride, Sabalenka charged towards the finish line by winning a further four games in the decider before Sanders managed to register another game of her own. Serving for the win, a blistering serve down the center of the court secured the victory.
“I was already (mentally) in the locker room. Maybe that was the key because I stopped thinking too much and started playing tennis. I tried to put the ball (on the court) as much as I could and I think I did it well. That’s why I came back (in the match),” Sabalenka commented on how she turned the match around.
“Now I will recover and then tomorrow I will speak with my team about my next opponent.”
Sabalenka will play China’s Wang Xinyu in the next round. She could claim the world No.1 ranking in Melbourne if one of two scenarios occur over the coming days. She reaches the final and Ash Barty loses before the quarter-finals or Barty reaches the Quarter-finals and Sabalenka goes on to win the title.
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