Halep, Sabalenka Upset At Australian Open; Barty Party Looking Good

by Staff | January 24th, 2022, 1:33 pm
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Two more top players fell in the women’s draw Monday at the Australian Open. Simona Halep lost a sluggish match to the drama queen Alize Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Halep was 3-1 down in her series to the Frenchwoman, and early on it looked like another tough day for the former No. 1.

Battling the heat, seemingly multiple physical issues and each other, the two played some crazy tennis. After taking the first, Cornet was close to victory up a break in the second at 3-1. But Halep, who appeared struggling with a leg issue, caught fire winning five straight games and 16 straight points to force the decider.

In a nervy third, Halep blinked and Cornet, who was ailing herself, found a way in the heat. And in her 63rd career Grand Slam, the 32-year-old Cornet reaches her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“It was definitely very hard conditions to play,” Cornet said. “I could see that Simona was also struggling, like me. We were both fighters on the court out there, and really giving everything we had, leaving it all on the court.

“It was such a drama, because I was one set one break up and I don’t know how many games I lost in a row and finally came back in the third. I was so tired I couldn’t think anymore, which was a good thing I think at the end, because it just made me keep playing, keep trying, and at the end I made my first quarterfinals.”

Cornet will meet Danielle Collins after the American outlasted fellow former semifinalist Elise Mertens in a near-three hour 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Collins looked to be hampered with some injury issues preventing her from sitting down during changeovers. But having trained in Florida, she overcame the elements to return to the quarterfinals.

“I think to do well in these events, you kind of have to ride out the storm,” Collins said. “I think you have moments where you’re playing some of your best tennis. Sometimes you lose your rhythm. Sometimes you’re dealing with some little pestering aches and pains. Sometimes you’re dealing with physical conditions, with weather. There’s so many different elements.

“I try to just, try to ride it out as much as possible. I love watching professional surfing, and I really admire what they do, how they get up on the board, how they deal with all the elements, so I use that as an analogy in my head a lot.”

Collins has played 12 events in Australia and reached the quarterfinals at seven of them.

Iga Swiatek also advanced from a set down defeating Sorana Cirstea 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

And the drama wasn’t done. In a nightcap moved from RLA due to the length of the day matches, second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka tumbled out to Kaia Kanepi in a thriller 5-7, 6-2, 7-6[10-7].

Ranked No. 115, the 36-year-old Kanepi served for the match with four match points at 5-4 in the third, but finally pulled off the upset in the super breaker. Kanepi has now reached the quarterfinals at all four Grand Slam events.

“I was really tight,” Kanepi said of those four match points she blew. “My hand was shaking when I started serving. I didn’t make any first serves in, and that added to the pressure.

“First, I tried to hit a bit harder with more spin. Then it didn’t go in. Then I started to hit a bit slower. I tried different things to think about than the serve, but I don’t think any of them helped.

“I almost didn’t [regroup]. I guess I was just lucky at the end. So close.”

Sabalenka was again marred by 15 double faults and 46 total unforced errors.

Today, the quarterfinal round begins with Australian favorite Ash Barty battling Jessica Pegula in the evening, and in the day it’s former semifinalist Madison Keys meeting French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.

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