Monday was a mix of first and second round matches at the Yarra Valley Classic and the Gippsland Trophy. Some of the top eight seeds came out to play for the first time and they were all successful. Just two seeds (Donna Vekic and Wang Qiang) lost on day 2 of the Melbourne Tennis Extravaganza. The draw for the third of the WTA 500s, the Grampians Trophy, was released today with matches getting underway on Wednesday. This is such a bizarre week because the number of matches is increasing every day! Read on for my day 2 notebook from second round matches in Melbourne including first competitive outings in 2021 for Serena Williams and Simona Halep.
(1) Simona Halep d. Anastasia Potapova, 6-4 6-4 (Gippsland Trophy)
I think this was the most entertaining match that i’ve watched so far in 2021. I would definitely recommend watching the highlights below or the full match if you have a spare hour. Every time I watch Potapova, i’m impressed. She’s been on the sidelines for quite a while after having surgery on her ankle in July last year so I am hoping that she can stay healthy and start to drive up the rankings.
Potapova reminds me a lot of Gavrilova, perhaps with a slightly higher ceiling in terms of potential. She’s very engaging and dynamic, and really goes after her shots. For Halep, I think it was a perfect opening test. Halep notably served well which was pretty much the difference in the first set. Halep was a bit tougher mentally at the end of the second set as she squeaked out the game at 4-4 and then served out the match in convincing fashion. The numbers backed up what a good match it was as the pair combined for 40 winners to 26 unforced errors (Halep 23W 13UE and Potapova 17W 13UE).
(5) Serena Williams d. Daria Gavrilova, 6-1 6-4 (Yarra Valley Classic)
Damn… Serena looked sharp. It was a very promising start to this match with some fantastic opening exchanges. Gavrilova was her normal bouncy self, giving as good as she got. Serena launched into a healthy lead from 2-1 in the first set as she put immense pressure on Gavrilova’s second serve. The vulnerability on the serve seeped into the rest of Gavrilova’s game as the Aussie backed off from her initial promise, allowing Serena time to dictate.
Gavrilova competed well in the second set, but failed to secure the elusive break of the Serena serve. Very impressed with Serena who was focused and composed, clean in all departments, and finished with 27 winners to 15 unforced errors. Serena said after the match that the delay in the Australian Open allowed her time to recover from the achilles injury that forced her to withdraw from the French Open (see article in tweet below). Another intriguing match-up awaits in the next round as Serena will reprise her head-to-head with Tsvetana Pironkova.
(8) Karolina Muchova d. Caty McNally, 6-1 6-1 (Gippsland Trophy)
Muchova-McNally had hipsters paradise written all over it. I was hoping for a bit more of a contest. This was a dreamboat performance from Muchova who swept past McNally in just over an hour. The first set scoreline was tough on McNally who had chances to break the Muchova serve. I appreciated that McNally tried to do different things. I felt like McNally was too aggressive at times. On occasions, she was standing so far up the court to return Muchova’s second serve and she didn’t give herself any time to react and get anything meaningful on the ball. It seemed an odd tactic against Muchova who has an excellent serve. I want Muchova to be a thing this year. I still think she is underrated on the WTA tour. Her game just oozes star quality.
Best point 🎾
A flavour of the rallies in the Halep-Potapova match.
Recommended media 📺
Nice interview between Casey and Serena.
Day 3 watchlist 📺
I AM OVERWHELMED AT THIS ORDER OF PLAY 😂😂😂.