Bangkok Desk, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Defending champion Sofia Kenin crashed out of the Australian Open in straight sets Thursday, as No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Daria Gavrilova to reach the tennis tournament’s third round.
The Aussie beat her compatriot 6-2, 7-6 (7) as Gavrilova pushed to the limit in the second set, mounting a brief hope of a comeback, while Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi comfortably ended No. 4 seed Kenin’s hopes of retaining the year’s first Grand Slam with a 3-6, 2-6 win.
“I have to try to get the best version of myself, regardless of the conditions. It does not matter that she has been standing for so long, ”the world No. 1 said post-match after she missed much of last season after deciding to stay in Australia over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Aussie confirmed her status as a favorite after winning the Yarra Valley Classic title and easily advancing in the first two rounds of the Grand Slam, raising hopes of having a local tournament winner for the first time since Chris O’Neil lifted the crown in 1978.
Barty’s second-round match was not as easy as her first win, where she won by a double 6-0. The Australian committed 34 unforced errors and conceded two break points after having led 5-2 in the second set. She will next face either Barbora Krejcikova or Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova fought through a contested first set to beat the American Danielle Collins. The No. 6 seed, an Australian Open semi-finalist in 2019, beat Collins 5-7, 2-6, winning 72 percent of points off her first serve but only converting half of her 12 break opportunities.
Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina beat American teenager Cori Gauff in straight sets to reach the third round, with a solid defensive performance during which she only committed 15 unforced errors. The No. 5 seed won 79 percent of her first-serve points to win the match’s important rallies, as Gauff couldn’t hold her calm in the key moments.
The 16-year-old American, the youngest player to rank among the top 100 in the women’s game, was unable to convert her four break point opportunities and bows out, having reached the fourth round in 2020. Svitolina will next face Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, who beat Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in three sets. EFE-EPA