Australian Open: Contrasting wins for Swiatek and Sabalenka in Round 2

Melbourne, Jan 20 (IANS) Belarusian tennis star and world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka along with Poland’s Iga Swiatek moved into the third round of the Australian Open with contrasting victories at the Melbourne Park on Thursday, even as two top-10 seeds — Spain’s Garbine Muguruza and Anett Kontaveit of Estonia — were eliminated.

Also, No.10 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia ended Australian stalwart Samantha Stosur’s singles career amid emotional scenes.

Swiatek dropped only three games in her first round win on January 18 and the No.7 seed sealed an equally-comprehensive, 6-2, 6-2 win over Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson to advance to the third round for the third straight year.

Swiatek won 11 straight games in her opening round against Harriet Dart from 3-1 down, and started Thursday’s match against Peterson much quicker: she won eight of the first 10 points as well as the first four games, and won five straight games en route to wrapping up the match in the second set.

She credited the quick start for the easy win.

“Just starting the match with confidence was pretty important for me,” Swiatek was quoted as saying by “I felt like I was dominating from the beginning, and after getting a couple of breaks, it was much easier to go forward. That was the key, basically.”

Swiatek needed just 67 minutes to score her second win against the Swedish No.1 at a major in the span of a year, having beaten her in the same round of last year’s French Open with the loss of just two games. Swiatek said that she and new coach Tomasz Witkorowski put together a comprehensive game plan that accounted for their first meeting on a new surface.

Swiatek will next meet No.25 Daria Kasatkina of Russia, who eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Poland’s Magda Linette. Swiatek had lost to Kasatkina in three sets on grass in Eastbourne last summer.

Sabalenka, after serving 12 double faults in a 6-1 first-set loss to Wang Xinyu of China, dug deep in the face of adversity to rally for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Sabalenka’s first two wins at this year’s Australian Open mark the first time she’s rallied from a set down to win multiple matches at a major.

Stosur’s singles career came to an end at the Kia Arena following a 2-6, 2-6 loss for the 37-year-old former US Open champion by Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

“It’s a special moment for Sam and I want to give it to her… It was actually very emotional for me, too. I had goosebumps when everybody was clapping for Sam,” Pavlyuchenkova said after the match. “She’s such a wonderful human being and also an amazing tennis player, so thank you Sam.”

Stosur was honoured on-court with a ceremony and video tribute by her peers featuring Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka and Ajla Tomljanovic, among others.

No.10 seed Pavlyuchenkova advances to a third-round meeting with Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who was a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova.



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