The second round is in the books at the 2020 Australian Open! There were some great matches dotted around the grounds on Thursday as the general serenity amongst the seeds continued with the top ten fully intact heading into the last 32. More on that stat in this post as well thoughts from my favourite matches of the day. There’s also a look ahead to a cracking slate of matches on Friday towards the end of the post.
Top stories 📚
1. Has Muguruza turned a corner?
I’d heard positive things on Twitter about the first match of the day on Rod Laver Arena between Garbiñe Muguruza and Ajla Tomljanovic so it was my first port of call in catching up on Thursday. It was a good choice because this was a brilliant match! The contest got better and better as Muguruza scored her second three set win of the tournament, winning 6-3 3-6 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes.
I thought Muguruza competed well for the most part last year but there’s a spark so far that was missing in 2019. I’ve always thought that Muguruza is at her best coming forward, even though her volleying can be rather shambolic at times! It’s not just about coming forward at every opportunity but more finding the right time to attack. There were times when she was hesitant but for the most part, she pitched it perfectly in this match. The stats back that up as she won 24 of 28 points at the net.
While Tomljanovic came out on the losing side, I thought it was a very positive match from her. I think she is one of most improved players on tour. In the second set, she was hitting deep and hard through the middle, and managing to dictate Muguruza. It was just a couple of loose points in the decider that separated the pair. In terms of pure quality, probably my favourite match of the tournament so far.
2. A wonderful moment for CiCi Bellis
If you haven’t seen it before, i’d recommend reading the Behind The Racquet post from CiCi Bellis last year. The story makes Bellis’s run at the Australian Open all the more extraordinary as she produced a terrific display to defeat the number 20 seed, Karolina Muchova, 6-4 6-4, to advance into the third round.
Muchova played a handful of tremendous points up at the net – her volleying skills are just insane! However, the rest of Muchova’s game wasn’t as sound. Bellis returned very well, generally rushing Muchova and forcing her into uncomfortable positions. One of the stories of the tournament so far and such a feel-good moment to see Bellis back on tour and fit and healthy again. Next up is Elise Mertens in the third round.
3. Putintseva turns the tables on Collins
The WTA… Two weeks ago in Brisbane, Danielle Collins thrashed Yulia Putintseva, 6-1 6-0 in less than an hour. Today, Putintseva turned the tables to oust last year’s semi-finalist, 6-4 2-6 7-5. The third set was fantastic. Putintseva defended valiantly and mixed up the pace and height of her shots to disrupt Collins’s rhythm. Collins saved match points with a super return game when Putintseva served for the match at *5-4 in the decider. Putintseva managed to regroup to win the last two games of the match.
The third set had sprinkings of drama, just what you’d expect from these two! Putintseva seemed to object to some Collins fans in the crowd and had a word with the umpire, Mohammed Lahyani. Collins seemed mostly quiet during the third set although there was one point where she let out a piercing scream as she chased down a Poots drop shot. For your dose of drama from the match, check out Mitch and Ashish on Twitter who had this one covered.
4. Seeds continue to thrive
The seeds went 10 for 12 with Collins and Muchova the only two to fall on Thursday. The top ten seeds from the bottom half have all advanced to the third round and without dropping a set!
(2) Karolina Pliskova d. Laura Siegemund, 6-3 6-3
(4) Simona Halep d. Harriet Dart, 6-2 6-4
(5) Elina Svitolina d. Lauren Davis, 6-2 7-6(6)
(6) Belinda Bencic d. Jelena Ostapenko, 7-5 7-5
(9) Kiki Bertens d. Arina Rodionova, 6-3 7-5
Super stat 🔢
The top ten seeds all march into the third round and it’s a bit of a record! It’s the first time this has happened since the 2009 Wimbledon Championships.
Hot shot 🔥
This was special from Elina Svitolina!
Favourite snap 📸
Love this shot that Bencic posted on social media.
Top Tweet 🦅
Carla Suárez Navarro played her last match at the Australian Open today.
I was waiting to hear more about Muguruza’s climb up Mount Kilimanjaro during her off-season so was glad she finally referenced it in her press conference. Also, I could listen to Garbiñe pronounce mountain all day long.
Recommended media 📺
Wonderful from Ash to give the spotlight to Jessica Moore who is retiring after this tournament.
Recommended reading 📚
Enjoyed this piece on Coco Gauff by Matt Zemek on Tennis with an Accent.
R3 previews 🤔
Thoughts on Friday’s third rounders…
Madison Keys vs. Maria Sakkari: This was the match-up I wanted to see from my draw preview! Ring the bells for a first time meeting. Both are yet to drop a set this week. I thought Keys was hitting the ball really well vs. Rus, especially off the backhand, in what was a highhh quality match. Sakkari is 0-7 in R3 at the Slams but her draws have been tough – Barty x2, Svitolina, Kasatkina, Venus, Konta and Lucic-Baroni. It’s a big deal for Sakkari but yet another brutal draw.
I’m torn. Keys could overwhelm Sakkari with her power, like the Kasatkina match-up, but then I also think Sakkari’s ability to vary the pace and height of her shots could unsettle Keys. I’d like to see Sakkari break new ground but Keys is the clear favourite IMO.
Alison Riske vs. Julia Goerges: Had this R3 match in my draw but have changed my mind on the winner! Coming round to Riske as the dark horse in this section. A feel-good match-up.
Petra Kvitova vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova: Kvitova faces a big-hitting and in-form opponent in Alexandrova. As well as Alexandrova is playing, I’d still favour Kvitova with all her Slam experience. Alexandrova’s 12 match win streak has featured three top 50 wins so taking on Kvitova will be a step up.
Naomi Osaka vs. Coco Gauff: The highest profile match of the day but personally there are others that intrigue me more. Osaka won comfortably at the US Open, 6-3 6-0. I guess it will be closer and I’ve been so impressed with Gauff, but I think Osaka, particularly with the serve, will be too strong and win in straights.
Sofia Kenin vs. Zhang Shuai: As much as I’m high on Kenin, I think this is one of the more likely matches to spring an upset. Zhang can be tough to stop when she has momentum and Kenin hasn’t really been tested at this tournament yet. We’ll see…
Ash Barty vs. Elena Rybakina: Dangerous match-up for Barty against the in-form and wildly under-the-radar, Rybakina. Barty often finds a way against the big hitters and tend to think her variety will rule the show.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Ons Jabeur: Holding out for Woz-Serena in R4! I wonder if Woz knows the draw? Jabeur has taken out Konta and Garcia and can peak. I think Wozniacki’s steadiness and ability to soak up pressure, particularly having just faced a battering against Yastremska, will see her through.
Serena Williams vs. Wang Qiang: Serena thrashed Wang Qiang at the US Open last year. Not feeling any upset alerts.