Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka evades upset exodus; beats Xinyu Wang to reach 3R

Alize Cornet and Clara Tauson upended the bottom half of the women's draw at Melbourne Park

by Abbey Johnson
Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka evades upset exodus; beats Xinyu Wang to reach 3R

For the second consecutive round at the 2022 Australian Open, Aryna Sabalenka ground out a win from a set down. The world no. 2 bounced back in her round-of-64 match against Xinyu Wang of China, posting a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory after an hour and 55 minutes of play.

Sabalenka was a thorough wreck in the opening set as she struggled to come up with good serves. A dozen double faults marked the set for the Belarusian who also hit 19 unforced errors to compound her woes. The lone game Sabalenka won came courtesy of a break in the sixth game as Wang tried to serve for the set.

A break back in the seventh game propelled Wang ahead in the match. Losing the set looked to have calmed Sabalenka’s nerves as the second set began while Wang started to get nervy. A break in the first game of the second set followed by a consolidation – giving her first service hold in the match, redirected the momentum of the match significantly to Sabalenka’s side.

Wang tried her best to put pressure back on her higher-ranked opponent, forcing her to scramble for points at the baseline but Sabalenka didn’t stumble. In the 10th game, while trying to serve for the set, Sabalenka faced a break point but quickly snuffed it before winning the set on her second set point.

With parity restored in the match, Sabalenka’s confidence grew further with her shots reflecting her mindset in the third set. Wang, on the other hand, struggled with her serve and quickly went down a break. Although she was able to get the break back immediately, she seemed to have gotten overwhelmed.

Two more breaks of Wang’s serve later, Sabalenka had a chance to serve for the match and she made no mistakes, securing the win on her first match point after Wang sent a forehand long. Sabalenka finished the match with 19 double faults – with only seven coming across the second and third sets – to Wang’s seven.

She had 33 winners, a dozen more than Wang’s 21 and 43 unforced errors to Wang’s 27. In the round-of-32, Sabalenka will play 31st seed Marketa Vondrousova. The Czech won against Liudmila Samsonova 7-5, 6-2 in their round-of-64 clash.

Australian Open: Garbine Muguruza, Anett Kontaveit exit unceremoniously

Earlier, at the start of the day, there was absolute carnage as seeds fell like nine pins. Clara Tauson ousted sixth seed Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-4 in the first match of the day at the Margaret Court Arena.

At Rod Laver Arena, in the opening match, it was third seed Garbine Muguruza who was upset. France’s Alize Cornet stunned the Spaniard, 6-3, 6-3. Tauson will play 27th seed, Danielle Collins, in the third round of the 2022 Australian Open.

The American defeated Ana Konjuh 6-4, 6-3. Cornet, meanwhile, will take on 29th seed Tamara Zidansek. The Slovenian defeated Heather Watson, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Aryna Sabalenka Xinyu Wang Alize Cornet