Svitolina Shines vs. Gauff At Australian Open, Kenin KO’d, Barty Survives; Serena, Halep Fri.
Elina Svitolina blew past Coco Gauff 6-3, 6-4 in the the second round at the Australian Open Thursday night.
In the first meeting, Gauff starting out not missing a serve for the first three games, but the 5th-seeded Svitolina was equally tough and undeterred and she was the tighter player off the ground committing 15 15 unforced errors to Gauff’s 23.
“I knew that Coco is all the time playing with a crowd, like fired up,” Svitolina said. “So I was expecting her to be straight into the match and playing well, as it happened. I think I faced a break point the first game, and then from then on I was just pushing myself and I was playing great tennis. It was a really great performance.”
Gauff hasn’t won back-to-back matches since August at Lexington.
“Today I feel like she just played better than I did on the pressure points,” said Gauff. “I served probably the best I have served in a long time, to be honest. I just got unlucky on the break points. … She hit her forehand down the line really well and it was tough for me to defend that.”
In the third round, Svitolina now meets Yulia Putintseva.
The defending champion Sofia Kenin got bounced by the hot-handed Kaia Kanepi in routine fashion 6-3, 6-2. Kanepi has now won 15 of her last 16 matches including ITF level events.
“I’ll take one match at a time and one tournament at a time and it all depends how I feel and how the opponent plays and so on,” said Kanepi who made the Gippsland final on Sunday. “But I played good today, I served really good and I think it was a good win.
“This year I think it helped that I got many matches in the previous week to get used to the conditions,” she added. “I also played many matches on Margaret Court and I also played there today, so I think that also helped to feel better.”
Not pleased with her play, Kenin was teary-eyed following the defeat in her biggest title defense.
“I obviously felt like I couldn’t find my rhythm,” Kenin said after. “I was obviously way too nervous.”
“I mean, she played really well,” she said. “She came up with some good shots. She obviously had a good plan against me. I just couldn’t execute my shots.”
In a match-up of 2019 semifinalists, Karolina Pliskova topped Danielle Collins 7-5, 6-2, avenging a loss to the American last week.
“It was tough because we played last week. The match was very close. At least I knew how she’s playing little bit,” said Pliskova.
“I just played better in some moments, which I didn’t last week. Then she was not playing that well as she did last week. I knew if I at least maintain little bit, just play at least similar as I was playing last week, I knew it’s going to be difficult for her to repeat what she played last week. I think she really played great.
“That was about it today. It was more about like staying positive, staying in there.”
After an opening round annihilation, Ash Barty looked on her way to another blowout on Thursday. Leading Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 5-2, Barty fell apart allowing her countrywoman and friend to run four games in a row. Barty had to save two set points in the breaker to advance 6-1, 7-6(7).
“I think I was doing all the right things up until that point,” Barty said. “Then I feel like I a little bit just lost my way tactically, more with just having the right intent and going about it the right way.
“I think more than anything I probably felt like the set was turning into a bit of a prickly pear, really,” she said, “but in the end, I was happy to be able to bring it back around in the tiebreak when I needed to and win some big points.”
Elise Mertens, Belinda Bencic and Jen Brady also were second round winners.
On Friday, Serena Williams returns to meet Anastasia Potapova. Simona Halep hopes to find better form against Veronika Kudermetova and Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Garbine Muguruza are on court.
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