The first round of the 2021 Australian Open is officially in the books. Five seeds fell on Tuesday – Victoria Azarenka, Petra Martic, Johanna Konta, Maria Sakkari and Zhang Shuai. Azarenka and Sakkari are covered in this post. Konta was forced to retire due to an ab injury which was a real shame as she had taken the first set against Kaja Juvan. Read on for my notebook from Tuesday’s action with a focus on Svitolina-Bouzkova which was my most anticipated match of the day.
Day 2️⃣ Highlights
(5) Elina Svitolina d. Marie Bouzkova, 6-3 7-6(5)
If you’d have been presented with this match, I don’t think you would have guessed that it was from the first round. It was a good indicator for the depth on the WTA tour right now and it really deserved a third set. The key stat – Svitolina converted two of four break points and Bouzkova just one of six. Bouzkova simply didn’t take her chances.
Bouzkova missed an early break point in the first set at 1-1, only to get broken in the next game with some poor tactical decisions. In a brute of a second set, Bouzkova had Svitolina on the ropes at 4-3* and 5-4* but couldn’t get the break, missing a set point in the process. Svitolina was at her resilient best. The Ukrainian player served well for the most part and did a good job at directing the ball into the corners and getting Bouzkova on the run. Svitolina’s path doesn’t get any easier with Coco Gauff in the next round. For Bouzkova, it’s coming. She’s competing well against top ten opposition and just needs to be more clinical. Easier said than done!
Jessica Pegula d. (12) Victoria Azarenka, 6-4 7-5
The potential Victoria Azarenka – Maria Sakkari third round match felt like the defining match-up of the second quarter. I do love me some WTA draw carnage as both were bundled out of the tournament on Tuesday. I feel quite sad for Azarenka because she was actually playing well at the start of the match. Azarenka led 5-2, served for the first set at *5-3 and even had a set point. Azarenka completely lost her rhythm on serve in that *5-3 game with a spate of double faults. Her game unravelled from there on and she was never the same player. In the second set, Azarenka experienced some breathing difficulties and required a medical time-out.
Pegula played a great match from *2-5 first set onwards. I was very impressed how she served out the match to claim the fourth top 15 win of her career. I’ve had Pegula beating Svitolina and Kenin in my Draw Challenges so far this year but didn’t have the faith in this one! I’m not massively surprised by this result because Pegula has been knocking on the door for a while. I was more surprised by Sakkari going out to Kristina Mladenovic. I didn’t see that one coming AT ALL. Azarenka, Sakkari and Kerber all experienced the hard lockdown and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
(25) Karolina Muchova d. Jelena Ostapenko, 7-5 6-2
One of the best first round matches on paper wasn’t as fun in reality. I oscillate with how I feel about watching Ostapenko. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I just don’t have the patience for it. It was the latter in this case 😂. It was also quite difficult to track the ball with the shadow on the court.
The last seven games of the first set all went to deuce. For a time, there was so little rhythm and neither player could string a series of decent points together. Muchova served out the first set at the second time of asking. I felt she had the edge with her serve which is the more convincing of the pair. Muchova was a bit of a passenger at times. I felt a concerted effort from Muchova in the final two games of the set to be more aggressive. After the first set, Muchova held the momentum this time round to win in straights. All in all, a good win for Muchova against an always dangerous opponent.
Super stat 🔢
Ash Barty dropped just 10 (TEN!) points in a 6-0 6-0 rout of Danka Kovinic. Barty was also 2/3 of the way to a golden set as she won the first 16 points of the match. Barty looked so, so good.
Press conference 📰
From yesterday, really enjoyed Ajla Tomljanovic’s perspective on both the COVID situation and her tennis.
Day 3 watchlist 📺
I have previewed my top five to watch on day 3 on the previews page here. No guarantee that I will be able to keep this going throughout the tournament but I like a challenge.