Prior to the third round of the 2020 Australian Open, all top ten seeds were still standing. After the third round and two wild days, just four of the top 10 seeds remain and three of the four pre-tournament favourites are out! This post wraps up the storylines from day 6 of the tournament with third round matches from the bottom half of the draw. Who you got as your champ now?!
Top stories 📚
1. Pavs beats Pliskova for the first time
No one beats Pavs seven times in a row. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova scored her first ever win over Karolina Pliskova, beating the number two seed in two tiebreak sets, 7-6(4) 7-6(3). Pavs was up an early break in both sets but Pliskova still had her opportunities to win both sets. Pliskova missed five break points at 5-5 in the first set and had two set points at 6-5 in the second set.
Pavs did so well at getting the first strike in the rallies after the serve and hit a torrent of down-the-line winners. I’ve said it many times before on the blog – when Pavs is on, she is one of the cleanest ball strikers in the game. Even a spate of double faults at the end of the second set didn’t throw her as she saved both set points with stunning winners.
I’m so happy for Pavs! She played a great match against Ash Barty in Adelaide and seems to be starting 2020 in fine form with new coach, Sam Sumyk, in tow. While I thought Pliskova would win this match, I was generally wary about her title prospects. Pliskova has now won a pre-Slam lead-up tournament for four of the last five Slams and I learnt my lesson this time having picked her as champ on multiple occasions. Despite being one of the most consistent players on the WTA tour, Pliskova is seemingly unable to translate that form into the Slams.
2. Top 10 seeds dropping like flies
The top ten seeds were perfect through the first four days. Since then, they’ve been dropping like flies! The number five and seed six seeds, Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic, won a combined four (!) games on Saturday as they tumbled out of the tournament. Both players came up against opponents who produced near-perfect performances.
Anett Kontaveit beat Belinda Bencic, 6-0 6-1 (!) in 49 minutes! I expected this to be a really tight three setter so when this scoreline appeared in my retinas this morning it took some time to digest the information. Kontaveit made a good start and it just snowballed from there as Bencic couldn’t get into the match. Even when Bencic did get on the scoreboard, she was unable to make an impact on return as Kontaveit had one of her best ever serving days. Bencic could have got more first serves in play and made a few less unforced errors but in my opinion, this result was more about Kontaveit peaking.
Garbiñe Muguruza produced a statement win as she overpowered Elina Svitolina, 6-1 6-2, to beat the Ukrainian player for just the second time in seven meetings on a hard court. Muguruza played another great match, hitting 31 winners to just nine (!) unforced errors. I’m so happy to see Muguruza in this rejuvenated form and without doubt, she’s a title contender. As well as Muguruza played, I was disappointed by Svitolina. She was hitting short for the majority of the match which allowed Muguruza to dictate and control the match. Svitolina was also poor on serve, even though she landed 77% of first serves in.
3. Bertens quietly into the second week, Mugu next!
Sneaking under-the-radar, Kiki Bertens is into the second week of the Australian Open for the first time in her career. Bertens came from a break down in the second set to beat Zarina Diyas, 6-2 7-6(3), in what was a good match. Bertens was superb in the first set but faced some resistance from Diyas who was much more aggressive in the second set. Bertens was a tad complacent and backed off a little. Still, she was supremely solid and played well when it counted in the second set tiebreak.
My predicted finalist is still alive (unlike the rest of my draw! 🙈) but I think Bertens will have to step it up in the next round when she plays Muguruza. Kiki vs. Garbi is my highlight from the slate of fourth round matches 🔥.
4. Best of the rest
Off to watch the rest of the matches from day 6. Results were as follows…
(4) Simona Halep d. Yulia Putintseva, 6-1 6-4 – Halep yet to drop a set as she moves into the second week of the Australian Open for the fifth time in her career.
(17) Angelique Kerber d. Camila Giorgi – Not sure about Angie’s form but she’s got history here so definitely one to watch.
(16) Elise Mertens d. CiCi Bellis, 6-1 6-7(5) 6-0 – Classic WTA scoreline. A great Slam comeback for Bellis. Mertens is a reliable customer at the Slams.
Iga Swiatek d. (19) Donna Vekic, 7-5 6-3 – If you weren’t already aware, Swiatek is the real deal.
Hot shot 🔥
Love me a forehand slice!
Favourite snap 📸
Love this shot of Simona. The shadow can make for some awesome shots on Rod Laver Arena.
Press highlight 📰
Very classy words from Belinda.
Recommended media 📺
Loved this. We have no excuses for not pronouncing Iga Swiatek’s name correctly! I hope the WTA produce more videos like this.
Sunday’s previews 🤔
Not too much to say as i’ve ultimately gone for the seeds in all four matches.
Ash Barty vs. Alison Riske: Should be a fun match. I’m really pleased to see Riske already building on her brilliant 2019 season and she’s dangerous having beaten Barty at Wimbledon last year.
Petra Kvitova vs. Maria Sakkari: If Kvitova’s level is off, I have no doubt Sakkari will sweep up. However, if Kvitova continues to play like she has through the first three rounds then I think she will be too good for Sakkari who is playing her first second week of a Slam.
Wang Qiang vs. Ons Jabeur: Obviously would have loved to see Serena-Woz at this stage but respect to both Wang Qiang and Jabeur who have earnt their places in the second week. Wang Qiang has dominated their previous matches and has a bit more Slam experience.
Sofia Kenin vs. Coco Gauff: The match of the day IMO. Gauff is still a bit of an unknown quantity at this stage of a Slam but she just keeps excelling. Kenin has a bit of pressure as the highest seed in her section but I like how she battled past Zhang Shuai. The winner will advance to their first ever Slam QF.