While day 3 of the 2017 Australian Open saw four seeds go out, none of them were huge surprises. The highest seed to fall on Wednesday was the number 10 seed, Carla Suárez Navarro. The Spaniard had been struggling with a shoulder injury and ultimately that was an issue for her today as Sorana Cirstea secured her best win in nearly three years since her comeback from a long-term shoulder injury.
In an all-unseeded third rounder but one with plenty of intrigue, Cirstea will next play Alison Riske. The American toughed out a three set win over last year’s quarter-finalist, Zhang Shuai in what I had pinned as my match of the day. By virtue of the win, Riske is looking good to rise to a new career high ranking post-tournament
Mona Barthel is also into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-4 win over the number 29 seed, Monica Puig, Barthel failed to serve out both sets but came through in straights to seal her best win in over a year. I’m so happy to see Mona enjoying success again following two tough years riddled by injury and poor health.
This time last year, Mona was battling a mystery virus (see below) which kept her off the tour for over four months. She struggled in her comeback and didn’t win back-to-back matches on the tour all year, dropping to 181 in the rankings.
There were promising signs in the off-season as Barthel won three matches at the $100K ITF tournament in Dubai. She has carried that into the new year where she looks fit and healthy again, and has already won eight matches, successfully qualifying for the main draws in Auckland and Melbourne. Nerves closing out sets and matches have been an issue but i’m hoping with the wins, will come confidence and a growing assuredness in her game.
Next up for Barthel is Ashleigh Barty who is into the third round of a Slam for the first time in her career. Barty produced a superb display to defeat Shelby Rogers, 7-5 6-1. Barty’s stats were fantastic.
Barthel v Barty will be a fun third rounder and a HUGE opportunity for both players to pick up a sizeable chunk of ranking points. The winner of this match will reach the second week of a Slam for the first time in their career and, in my opinion, have a good shot to go deeper in the draw.
Elsewhere, it was a pretty quiet day with no major surprises. Angelique Kerber was pushed to three sets for the second straight match but ultimately prevailed to secure back-to-back wins for the first time in 2017. Kerber enjoyed a birthday win over Carina Witthoeft, 6-2 6-7(3) 6-2. The world number one will play Kristyna Pliskova in the third round. The Czech player beat the number 27 seed, Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-4 7-6(8).
I decided to catch up on sleep on Tuesday night so didn’t get to watch much of the action. The one match that I did see was on the Hisense Arena where Eugenie Bouchard produced a solid display to defeat Peng Shuai, 7-6(5) 6-2. It’s been a while since i’ve watched Peng and one thing that struck me was how much more aggressive she seemed in her hitting compared to say 2011 when she had cracked the world’s top 20.
The first set tiebreak was a scrappy affair with both players producing double faults. Bouchard managed to string a couple of decent points together to nick it. Peng fell away rapidly in the second set although she did break Bouchard back when serving for the match with a PEAK game, staving off three match points with majestic winners. However Bouchard, who had to do quite a bit of defending at times but settled in the second set, was good value for the win. Bouchard will play CoCo Vandeweghe in the third round.
Venus Williams won through to the third round with a 6-3 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele. Venus was forced to pull out of doubles with sister, Serena due to an elbow injury which could be a concern for a tricky third round clash against the in-form, Duan Ying-Ying.
A US Open rematch is on the cards between Garbiñe Muguruza and Anastasija Sevastova after both seeds won in straight sets on Wednesday. Sevastova beat Muguruza at last year’s US Open although the Spaniard did gain revenge later in the year in Tokyo.
Rolling back the years, we’ll also get a third round match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic! This really feels like an old-school match-up in the face of all the up-and-comers on the tour. Jankovic had a superb win over Julia Goerges, while Kuznetsova saw off the 17-year-old, Jaimee Fourlis for the loss of just three games.
Elina Svitolina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova were also winners on day 3 and will meet in my favourite third round match-up from the top half.
Switching attention to Thursday, here’s a preview of the sure-to-be-amazing second rounder between Yulia Putintseva and Jelena Ostapenko.
I’m obviously excited about Serena v Lucie although it is in the night session so will take place while i’m at work. I was going to write a match-up but didn’t bother in the end since I was unable to watch their full matches. It’s a cliché but Lucie really has nothing to lose. The win over Wickmayer and saving nine match points will have done her confidence a world of good. I really think that Lucie can make this a competitive match and give Serena a stern test. I could see Lucie winning a set, not sure about the match, but i’ll be rooting for her 🙂
Thursday is set to be a superb day of tennis and i’m also immensely excited about Johanna Konta v Naomi Osaka. I’ve been getting up early before work but I think i’m going to have to switch it around since a lot of the good matches are early. Polls for my favourite matches below…
And finally, I loved hearing Andrea Petkovic again on yesterday’s No Challenges Remaining Podcast.