Unless you count the choking Sam Stosur, the story of the continued round one on Tuesday at the Australian Open was the far-away level of the top players compared to even the upper level of the rank and file.
No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova steamrolled the competent Russian Vera Dushevina 6-2, 6-0, and No. 4 Maria Sharapova made a mockery of Argentine veteran Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-1 in hit, difficult conditions in Melbourne.
“I know how she can play,” said Sharapova of the player who had previously beat her at Wimbledon. “I know the quality that she can produce. Some of her best tennis is on clay. I think that’s when she likes the ball to be kind of a little bit higher. She likes to get you off the court. She has many weapons when you give her that time. I think it was just important not to give her that, what she likes.”
Stosur, on the other hand, was obviously feeling the weight of her best chance to compete for an Australian Open title after winning the 2011 US Open. This month Stosur lost early in two Aussie Open warm-up events, and on Tuesday continued the trend, exiting in her first-round match 7-6(2), 6-3 to Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
“I think it was one of those matches where I wasn’t taking charge,” Stosur said. “She was playing super aggressive. She would either hit great balls, especially at the start, or could miss by a long way. She hung in there and kept going for it and eventually got better and better. I think she played a very, very good match. You have to give credit where credit’s due. But I still think I didn’t maybe step up.”
In other Top 10 play on Tuesday (7) Vera Zvonareva struggled past Alexandra Dulgheru in three sets, and No. 9 Marion Bartoli bageled Virginie Razzano in the second.
There were no other upsets beside Stosur as the remainder of the seeds in play on Tuesday moved into the second round. Winning in three sets were (14) Sabine Lisicki, (18) Svetlana Kuznetova (bagel in the third), and (29) Nadia Petrova (bagel in the third). Also baking bagels in wins were (21) Ana Ivanovic and (23) Roberta Vinci.
“Yeah, can’t complain,” Ivanovic said. “I mean, first set hardly anything went wrong. I felt I really played well. Yeah, I did lot of good things. Was patient. Got a little bit tough in the second set. But I stepped up when I needed to, came to the net a lot, was really pleased to manage the break on 4-3 and then hold my serve.”
Other notable unseeded winners were Shahar Peer bageling Aussie wildcard Isabella Holland, China’s Zheng Jie humbling American wildcard Madison Keys 2-and-1, Jelena Dokic stunning Anna Chakvetadze 2-and-1, and young American winners Sloane Stephens and qualifier Jamie Hampton easing into the second round in straight sets.
“It was difficult conditions out there,” Dokic said. “It was very windy. Yeah, I think it was worse than yesterday. I was hoping it would be better…Sometimes it’s not pretty in these conditions. But, yeah, I did everything right…But, you know, she’s been also a little bit sick and I don’t think she’s played for six months, even though she had a pretty good week last week.”
Serena Williams was yet to go on for her night match finale as of 7 a.m. EST Tuesday, waiting for a late Lleyton Hewitt match to end.
Matches to watch for Thursday in Melbourne include (5) Li Na vs. Aussie Olivia Rogowska, (11) Kim Clijsters vs. Frenchwoman Stephanie Foretz Gacon, (3) Victoria Azarenka vs. Aussie Casey Dellacqua, (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. Anna Tatishvili, (10) Francesca Schiavone in an all-Italian vs. Romina Oprandi, and hot-handed German Mona Barthel vs. (32) Petra Cetkovska.
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