Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki continues to be overlooked as a legitimate favorite to repeat at the Australian Open. The Dane, though, has let her racquet do the talking and prove the oddsmakers’ wrong, and so far so good. She’s won her last nine matches in Melbourne after trouncing Johanna Larsson today 6-1, 6-3.
“I thought it was a fine match. I think I started off, played well in the first set. I think she stepped it up a little bit in the second set. I think I served well. Yeah, happy to be through.”
Wozniacki awaits the late-night Maria Sharapova-Rebecca Peterson winner in the third round.
Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens opened the day on Rod Laver beating her former doubles partner from junior days, Timea Babos, 6-3, 6-1. After losing the first round in Melbourne the last three years, the 25-year-old Stephens is finding the mark again. She’ll meet No. 31 seed Petra Martic on Friday.
Former champion Angelique Kerber also had no problems, rolling past the lanky lefty Beatrice Hadad Maia 6-2, 6-3 in the evening. It was the German’s 100th career match win in a Grand Slam.
“It was a really tough match,” said Kerber. “She played really well. I knew I had to play my best tennis. We are here at the first Grand Slam of the year, and this court is so special for me.
Kerber will next face Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell who upended No. 29 seed Donna Vekic.
Australian hope Ash Barty also cruised, winning the last five games to eliminate Yafan Wang 6-2, 6-3.
“I felt like today was pretty clean, except for a couple of games where I got passive,” said Barty. “Very happy with the way I have started 2019, not just here in Melbourne but also in Perth and Sydney, hell of a start.”
Barty will meet Greek Maria Sakkari who’s been just as in-form as the Australian.
“I’m great friends with and have a really great relationship,” Barty said of Sakkari. “We have played a couple times now. She’s one of the best movers and competitors out there.”
Caroline Garcia, Petra Kvitova and the hot-handed Aryna Sabalenka were also easy winners.
There were upsets in addition to Vekic, though. No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens become the first Top 10 side in the women’s draw to lose as she fell in three sets to Russian veteran Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Aliaksandra Sasnovich continued her good form in Australia knocking out No. 20 seed Anett Kontaveit while in one of the more eye-popping results of the day, 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova crushed 24th-seeded and US Open quarterfinalist Lesia Tsurenko 6-0, 6-2.
Anisimova will meet Sabalenka on Friday in the third round.
On Thursday, a blockbuster showdown is set between 7-time champion Serena Williams and the feisty Canadian who once made the Melbourne semifinals, Eugenie Bouchard.
“It will be a great match,” Serena said. “She plays really well. She does everything well, and I really like that she doesn’t quit. You know, people write her off, and she doesn’t let that bother her. She continues to fight and do what she needs to do. I think that’s really not good.”
Serena has won both meeting but long ago, at the 2014 WTA Finals and at 2013 Cincinnati.
World No. 1 Simona Halep returns to take on recent Hobart champion Sofia Kenin. And former semifinalist Johanna Konta collides with 2-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza. The Brit Konta has taken two of three from Muguruza.
Venus Williams, Elise Mertens, Karolina Pliskova and US Open champion Naomi Osaka are also in action.
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