The women’s draw lost another top seed and a former world No. 2 who seemed to be on the comeback trail as the draw at the Australian Open continued to be shaken up on Wednesday, Day 3 of the tournament in Melbourne.
No. 6 seed Petra Kvitova looked to have shaken off the illness that kept her out of the Aussie Open warm-up events, but that was of no consequence to rising Aussie Daria Gavrilova, who saw off the former Wimbledon winner 6-4, 6-4.
Voted last year’s “WTA Most Impressive Newcomer,” Gavrilova added to her former Slam-winner scalps that last year included Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Kvitova helped out with 35 unforced errors and seven double faults over two sets.
“It was unreal,” said the 21-year-old recent Russian-turned-Australian. “I was so nervous in the end…In that last game I told myself, ‘You’re actually down 5-3 and you’re trying to stay in the match.’ And obviously that helped.”
Also shocked was last week’s Sydney winner and No. 23 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who was upended 6-1, 7-5 by the Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko.
Righting the Top 10 ship were four winners as world No. 1 Serena Williams pummeled Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei 6-1, 6-2; No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Eugenie Bouchard’s resurgence 6-4, 6-2; No. 5 Maria Sharapova dismissed Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-1; and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro survived a scare from Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2.
The world No. 1 Williams will next meet Russian riser Daria Kasatkina, who beat fellow comer Ana Konjuh in straights.
“Every time I come here, I always have a great time whether I win or lose,” said Serena in a statement that’s difficult to believe from the competitive American. “I really love this crowd, and it all started here; this is where I played my first Grand Slam, right here on this court. I’m still going and it’s really an honor.”
Bouchard took a 4-2 lead on Radwanska before the Pole took her position out front for good.
“That was a great challenge for me to play somebody like Eugenie in the second round,” Radwanska said. “I think in a couple of months we’re going to see her going deeper in the Grand Slams.”
Last year’s runner-up Sharapova played under the Rod Laver Arena roof as rain fell, dropping just six points on serve against the neophyte Sasnovich as temperatures also dipped.
“That’s what we have to expect in Melbourne, and that’s one of the toughest challenges of this tournament,” Sharapova said. “The weather changes — one day it’s over 40 degrees Celsius, another day you need a parka. Overall, I’m just happy that I could get the match in because I know many players are waiting for the rain to stop.”
Sharapova will next meet American scrambler Lauren Davis, who advanced into the third round when Magdalena Rybarikova retired due to a right ankle injury.
In other seeded action No. 12 Belinda Bencic topped Hungary’s Timea Babos 6-3, 6-3; No. 13 seed and US Open finalist Roberta Vinci was an easy winner over American Irina Falconi 6-2, 6-3; and No. 28 Kristina Mladenovic moved into the third round with a 6-1, 7-6(4) win over American Nicole Gibbs.
While Czech Kristyna Pliskova fell to Monica Puig 4-6, 7-6(6), 9-7, during the effort Pliskova slapped 31 aces, a new WTA single-match record.
Not a ton of challenges to the seeds on Thursday in Melbourne, with Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges vs. (9) Karolina Pliskova, title outsider (14) Victoria Azarenka vs. Danka Kovinic, and (3) Garbine Muguruza, (7) Angie Kerber, and (15) Madison Keys also in action.
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