Day 3 of the 2020 Australian Open is in the books with the tournament now officially caught up after the rainy first day. It’s been a pretty routine start to the tournament with the top ten seeds all still alive and kicking! Read on for the top stories including the match of the day between Caroline Wozniacki and Dayana Yastremska. Three to watch on Thursday’s order of play can be found towards the end of the post.
Top stories 📚
1. Wozniacki lives to fight another day
One of the big stories of this year’s tournament is the impending retirement of Caroline Wozniacki who announced that the Australian Open would be her last tournament. I thought today was going to be the day. However, in a result befitting of the fighting spirit that has characterised her entire career, Wozniacki scored a superb win over the number 21 seed, Dayana Yastremska. Wozniacki recovered from 1-5 down in the first set and 0-3 down in the second set (both double breaks) to win, 7-5 7-5.
Yastremska was hitting big for the first few games but lost her way. Credit to the grittiness of Wozniacki as she landed meaningful serves and mixed up her shots effectively, no doubt helping to contribute to Yastremska’s decline. The last few games of the match were tense and tortuous. Wozniacki finally sealed the win on her sixth match point.
I was really pleased for Wozniacki and hope she gets Rod Laver Arena billing for her next match. I don’t want to say it but…*whispers* could we be on course for a dream last 16 clash? Interesting to note that Yastremska took a medical time-out down 4-5 in the second set. I don’t like to judge because you never know what a player is going through but it’s becoming a recurring theme, particularly when Yastremska is down in the score. The 19-year-old is starting to gain a reputation on the tour and Wozniacki referenced the moment in her press conference.
2. Goerges edges Martic
Julia Goerges is enjoying her best run at the Australian Open since 2015. Goerges advanced to the third round after beating the number 13 seed, Petra Martic, 4-6 6-3 7-5. This match felt like a 50-50 clash and so it proved to be with little to separate the pair. After Goerges lost her break lead in the third set and then wasted opportunities to re-break at 4-4, I felt like Martic was going to nick this. However, Goerges dusted herself off and was ultimately rewarded for being more aggressive as she managed to land big first serves and groundstrokes in the court when it counted.
3. Gauff does it again
Coco Gauff set up a third round rematch with Naomi Osaka after she won a nailbiter against Sorana Cirstea. Gauff rallied from *0-3 *0-30 down in the third set to see off Cirstea in an exciting final set, eventually winning, 4-6 6-3 7-5.
After going down an early break in the third set, Gauff became noticeably more aggressive and started to come forward. There was a moment where Cirstea put her hand up when Gauff was serving and the American player didn’t realise. This really seemed to fire her up as she fist pumped practically every point won from there on (including one in Cirstea’s direction immediately after!).
Once again, i’m blown away by Gauff’s composure. She held at *4-5, finding her serve when just two points away from losing the match, and then served out the match at *6-5 in clinical fashion. Gauff-Osaka will be fascinating in the next round. The 15-year-old has not fared so well against top ten opposition at the Slams so far so it will be interesting to see what adjustments she makes from their famous US Open meeting last year.
4. Seeds saunter into the last 32
There has been a disturbing (!) calmness among the top seeds so far at this Australian Open. The top ten seeds in action on Wednesday faced a few adversities but all five advanced to the third round in straight sets. There were also straight set wins for Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Maria Sakkari, Ekaterina Alexandrova, Wang Qiang and Elena Rybakina.
(1) Ash Barty d. Polona Hercog, 6-1 6-4
(3) Naomi Osaka d. Zheng Saisai, 6-2 6-4
(7) Petra Kvitova d. Paula Badosa, 7-5 7-5
(8) Serena Williams d. Tamara Zidansek, 6-2 6-3
(10) Madison Keys d. Arantxa Rus, 7-6(3) 6-2
5. First round wrap-up
It was a confusing day with a mix of first and second round matches. A couple of notable R1 results:
Carla Suárez Navarro d. (11) Aryna Sabalenka, 7-6(6) 7-6(6) – The highest seeded scalp so far but a nice one in Suárez Navarro’s farewell tournament in Melbourne. A classic WTA result that went completely against the form book!
Sara Sorribes Tormo d. Veronika Kudermetova, 2-6 6-1 6-1 – I had Kudermetova down for a bit of a run in Melbs so this was a surprise.
Taylor Townsend d. Jessica Pegula, 6-4 7-6(5) – This match-up stumped me when I did my draw. Went the wrong way!
Super stat 🔢
Gauff has now reached at least the third round in three of the four Slams and is a perfect 4-0 in three setters at the Slams. On Friday, she’ll be seeking a first top five win against Osaka.
H&H moment 🤗
A lovely moment between Martic and Goerges after their tough three setter.
Top Tweet 🦅
Liked this from Paula Badosa after her second round match with Kvitova.
Recommended media 📺
Casey Dellacqua conducted the on-court interview for her good friend, Ash Barty, after her second round win. You could feel Casey’s nerves! It was a nice moment 😊.
R2 previews 🤔
My three to watch for Thursday…
Belinda Bencic vs. Jelena Ostapenko: This could be a cracker! Match of the day for me. Ostapenko announced the very sad news that her father passed away last week. The Latvian player made a bright start to the tournament in her first match of 2020 with a straight sets win over the talented qualifier, Samsonova. Bencic has been so-so in 2020, solid yet unspectacular. Ostapenko won their only previous match on the hard courts of Indian Wells in 2018. I’m going for Bencic to be severely tested but to rise to the challenge and win in three sets.
Iga Swiatek vs. Carla Suárez Navarro: This should be a nice match-up between two crafty players at opposite ends of their career. Both beat big hitters in the first round. Swiatek hadn’t played since the US Open but cruised past Timea Babos for the loss of just five games. Suárez Navarro beat Sabalenka which was a superb win. Swiatek’s rise to relevance has been super quick and it’s not surprising to see her as the favourite in this one. I’d go Swiatek.
Elise Mertens vs. Heather Watson: A rematch from last week’s Hobart quarter-final which will be tough to beat as the longest match of the year at three hours and 33 minutes. Watson won that match, a result that I did not expect. I’m high on Mertens this year. It’s nice to see Watson playing better and she must be feeling confident after their most recent result. Still, I feel like Mertens will win this?
Following what turned into a five set men’s match on MCA in the night session, I was pleased to see the organisers move the Madison Keys-Arantxa Rus match to Rod Laver Arena. Normally, the organisers honour the schedule for a court with allocated seating but this was a smart move IMO as making the players play wait into the early hours is just madness. Hopefully the organisers have learnt from the Muguruza-Konta debacle last year.