Former No. 1s Halep, Kerber, Pliskova Sail Into Australian Open 3R; Osaka v Coco Fri.
by Staff | January 23rd, 2020, 9:00 am
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Three players who have played during the final weekend at the Australian Open all advanced to the third round with relative ease.

2016 champion Angelique Kerber cruised past Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon 6-3, 6-2. The German has lost just nine games in two matches. The 32-year-old now gets Camila Giorgi who upended 2-time Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“The first rounds are always not so easy,” said Kerber. “It doesn’t matter if you win in two sets or three sets. You always have to deal with the nerves with the first rounds.”

Karolina Pliskova posted her first win over Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3. The 2019 semifinalist smacked eight aces to improve her undefeated 2020 record to 6-0.

“I think against her you never gonna feel amazing because she tries to play a lot of styles, a lot of dropshots, slice. So there is a lot of different shots which she’s playing,” said Pliskova.

“I think she just wanted me to feel this way, but I think I was just doing okay and just staying on my side of the court, being positive enough. Serving well today especially, so I think it was just solid match.”

Pliskova, who stunned Serena Williams in the quarterfinals last year, no meets Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

In the evening, Simona Halep eliminated the last Brit standing, Harriet Dart, 6-2, 6-4. The young Dart came from 4-0 down in the second to make things interesting before the Romanian closed out her second win of 2020.

“It was a little bit dangerous, I lost the focus a little bit, but she started to play very well,” Halep said.

“It was more difficult for me to hold it. But I’m happy I went through it.

“I like to play under pressure; it’s more fun and more excitement. But I would prefer to finish it when I have the chance.”

Two-time Slam champion Garbine Muguruza might be back on track. The Spaniard needed three sets again to stay in the season’s first Slam and beat Australian Ajla Tomljonovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. The 32nd-ranked Muguruza was 24 of 28 at the net.

“I was expecting a tough match because we have played before and I saw she was having good matches,” said Muguruza.

“So I was ready for a battle. She did push me and I pushed her. At the end on the third set, it was very close for both of us. I was just happy the way I played and how I managed to close it up on those, in those final games.”

No. 6 seed Belinda Bencic secured late breaks in both sets to edge former French Open champion 7-5, 7-5. The match saw a total of 12 breaks as the Swiss won her 7th match in her last 8 in Slams.

Anett Kontaveit will be next for Bencic.

Elsewhere, Donna Vekic backed up her big Maria Sharapova win. She’ll take on teen Iga Swiatek. American CiCi Bellis continued her comeback to Slam play easing past Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-4. The 20-year-old Bellis missed 18 months of the tour due to various injuries/surgeries before returning in November.

Former semifinalist Elise Mertens will be Bellis’s next opponent.

And in the evening Yulia Putintseva held off 2019 semifinalist Danielle Collins 7-5 in the third. The American beat Putintseva earlier this month dropping just one game. Those tables were turned.

Elina Svitolina and Lauren Davis were playing the late match.

Tomorrow, the big week one showdown is set between defending champion Naomi Osaka and 15-year-old Coco Gauff. Osaka blew out the teen at the US Open last fall in just 63 minutes dropping only three games. The young teen is hopeful to do some damage this time.

Serena Williams returns to take on Qiang Wang and Ash Barty battles to rising start Elena Rybakina who has begun the year 11-1.

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