AusOpen22 Women's wrap: Swiatek & Halep advance, Inglis stuns as Kvitova exits
Tennis

AusOpen22 Women’s wrap: Swiatek & Halep advance, Inglis stuns as Kvitova exits

Iga Swiatek remembers a time not so long ago she would have been seething at her three games dropped on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

This was despite the seventh seed having reeled off the last 11 games against qualifier Harriet Dart and with 21 winners to boot.

The Pole was among a slew of seeds that advanced on Day 2 of Australian Open 2022 as she joined Anett Kontaveit, Simona Halep, and Elena Rybakina in the second round.

Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis owned the day’s biggest upsets, over Petra Kvitova and Leylah Fernandez respectively, while in the night session, AO 2016 champion Angelique Kerber was bundled out in straight sets, the 16th seed going down 6-4 6-3 to Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

The perfectionist in Swiatek, she admitted, made it difficult to meet her own lofty standards, a trait which led to the hiring of her travelling sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, more than two years ago.

“It’s pretty hard to be a perfectionist in a sport like (this) because basically this is the game where you’re going to make mistakes,” Swiatek said after her 6-3 6-0 first-round win. “Even when you play a perfect match there are going to be some mistakes, so actually in moments like today, at the beginning of the match, you know, usually a few years ago, I would get really, really angry about that and I would feel like this day is going to be bad.

“But right now, I’m just trying to find solutions… and just working on technical stuff, and it’s been easier to understand my mind.”

The seventh seed was slower to click into gear against Dart and soon fell behind the early break at 1-3.

Any hopes the British world No.123 had envisaged of the biggest upset in the women’s draw so far were quickly quashed when the Pole found her range.

She did not concede another game in the 72-minute affair as she locked in a clash against Swede Rebecca Peterson, a 6-2 6-3 winner over Australia’s Daria Saville.

Earlier, 133rd-ranked wildcard Inglis rode the home-crowd support to the biggest win of her career over 23rd seed Fernandez, 6-4, 6-2.

The West Australian stunned last year’s US Open finalist for her first main-draw win at a major.

“I had thought of that moment for a long time,” Inglis said. “It was just pure happiness. I was so happy. I saw the ball go out and I looked at my box.

“It was an amazing moment. I’m really so happy I could have it here in Melbourne with all my friends and family there.”

The 2019 finalist and 20th seed Kvitova fell to Cirstea at Melbourne Park for the second year running.

While the Czech led the pair’s head-to-head ledger 5-3 heading in, the Romanian repeated her second-round upset from 2021 in a convincing 6-2 6-2 result.

“It was better than I expected,” Cirstea said. “I’ve had a lot of matches against Petra and it was always tough. I lost some, won some but she’s always a very tough opponent no matter the round or the day.

“I’m very happy about the way I played today.”

Cirstea’s compatriot and former world No.1 Halep won her sixth straight match on Australian soil with a 6-4 6-3 triumph over Pole Magdalena Frech.

Despite having claimed her 23rd career title in the Melbourne Summer Set lead-up event, Halep admitted she was still some way off her best.

“I don’t believe I am at the highest level, my highest level, like in the past, but I feel good,” Halep said. “I feel confident that the game is there, the movement is there. The mental(ity) is pretty strong.”

In-form sixth seed Kontaveit had few difficulties in her first outing of Australian Open 2022 against Czech Katerina Siniakova.

The Estonian, who reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park two years ago, claimed a 6-2 6-3 victory on the heels of a breakout second half of the season, which reaped four titles and a runner-up showing at the WTA Finals.

“I think I just found some inner confidence, maybe (brought) a more positive outlook into my matches and gains in the way I was feeling on court, so I think that was the biggest change,” Kontaveit said. “Really hoping to carry that momentum into this year.”

In an all Kazakhstani showdown, Adelaide finalist and 12th seed Rybakina saved a match point to deny countrywoman Zarina Diyas, 6-7(3) 7-6(3) 6-1.

ajike

Ajike is one of Nigeria's top Sportscasters with over 15 years of experience in writing and talking Sports.

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