First round action continued on Monday at the Apia International in Sydney with the most enticing match of the day featuring the number ten seed, Caroline Wozniacki up against Rio gold medallist, Monica Puig. Wozniacki held off a peak-Pica second set to triumph in three sets, 6-3 2-6 6-4.
Puig had levelled up the match with some unstoppable tennis in the second set, dropping just five points behind her potent serve and blasting winners all over the court. However, she couldn’t replicate it in the third set and dropped her serve in the first game of the set with four (!) double faults. This was a decent showing from Wozniacki considering she suffered a tough loss to Julia Goerges last week in Auckland having been dancing, up a set and a break. Puig is in the same mould as Goerges in terms of being a player that can catch a hot streak of form and essentially hit Wozniacki off the court.
The Dane played an impressive third set, serving and anticipating well but also stepping up closer to the baseline on a more frequent basis. She clung onto the break right from the first game of the third set and maintained her focus despite missing a break point for the double-break lead. From *0-30 down in the final game, Wozniacki reeled off four straight points including a very positive match point.
The WTA deemed Wozniacki’s shot below as the “shot of the day” – not exactly a glowing representation of tennis on Monday! There was a stunning point midway in the third set where Wozniacki showed some remarkable defence before closing the point out with a volley. The WTA have been flooding Twitter with point highlights yet on this occasion, they went mostly dormant during the third set of Wozniacki-Puig and missed what I thought was a great point.
ADDITION – I just found the point I was talking about above in the highlights! It’s linked at the right place below.
The seeds had a good day on Monday in Sydney as Dominika Cibulkova, Johanna Konta and Roberta Vinci all advanced to the second round in straight sets. Cibulkova was taken to three sets the last time she played Laura Siegemund but this time round dropped just two games. Konta had a reasonably comfortable victory over Arina Rodionova, 6-3 6-4, while Vinci won the last nine games against Maria Sakkari in a 6-4 6-0 win.
There were also straight set wins for Daria Gavrilova (d. Donna Vekic, 6-3 7-6(1)), Barbora Strycova (d. Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3 7-5) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (d. Sam Stosur, 6-3 6-1). WTA highlights of Pavlyuchenkova’s win over Stosur can be found below.
The only seed that did go out in Sydney was sadly via a retirement as Elena Vesnina pulled the plug down, 2-6 0-4 against CoCo Vandeweghe. Get well soon, Elena!
Finally, Christina McHale and Duan Ying-Ying booked their spots in the second round of Sydney with three set wins. McHale will face number two seed, Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round while Duan faces Vandeweghe in the only all unseeded second round match.
All eight second round matches are up in Sydney on Tuesday and it’s an exciting line-up! There are polls for three of the matches below and thoughts on all eight matches on the predictions page.
For a full detailed preview of Angelique Kerber’s first match in Sydney against Daria Kasatkina, click on the link below.
The Hobart International suffered more misery with yet ANOTHER withdrawal. This means there are seven lucky losers in the main draw. I honestly can’t ever remember seeing so many withdrawals from one tournament.
Lucie Safarova made an excellent start in Hobart with a straight sets win over Viktorija Golubic, 6-3 6-4. The Czech player needed three attempts at serving out the match but got there in the end and won 90% of first serve points. Lucie had a tough end to 2016 so just to see her picking up these wins is very encouraging and surely helping to rebuild her confidence in singles.
Kiki Bertens continued her ownership of Annika Beck with a sixth consecutive victory on tour, 6-1 6-2 in Monday’s night match in Hobart. Andrea Petkovic also made it through to the second round in rather speedy fashion, 6-4 6-0 over Nicole Gibbs in exactly an hour.
The number seven seed, Kristina Mladenovic won just three games as she was ousted by Elise Mertens.
After a first round loss in Hobart, Francesca Schiavone revealed in press that 2017 will be her last year on tour!
A final mention of Brisbane and a WTA Insider podcast with the new world number one in doubles, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. She’s a great listen :-).
And finally, while there have been many withdrawals from the Australian Open, we are guaranteed some stonking first round matches based on the quality of players that will not be seeded as listed below.