Iga Swiatek needed all the tactical efforts she could muster and a little bit of luck to get past Jule Niemeier in the first round of the 2023 Australian Open in the evening session. The world no. 1 eventually pulled off a 6-4, 7-5 win after almost two hours of play.
Across both sets, Niemeier was the better player as the top seed struggled to get her bearings right. Unforced errors pockmarked Swiatek’s game and unlike what’s come to be usual for her – getting easy, put-away wins – she struggled to get past the German’s shots.
Time and again, Niemeier forced Swiatek to hit an extra shot which then mostly, if not always, turned erroneous.
Australian Open: Iga Swiatek's slow start
In the first set, Swiatek had to scramble in the seventh game to save two break points – it was the first time in the match that either player had faced a break point – and it wasn’t until the 10th game that Niemeier’s game showed signs of pressure getting to her.
Up to that point, she’d been able to win her service games relatively easier as compared to the favourite, whose every game had been pushed to deuce. But a series of errors brought up two set points for Swiatek in the set and while Niemeier’s forehand saved the first, another error gave the set away to her opponent.
The turnaround was immediate in the second set as Niemeier broke Swiatek in the first game to go up 1-0. And she maintained that lead right up to the 10th game when she was broken while serving for the set – without even being able to bring up set point.
A second break, while she served for the set in the 12th game, gave Swiatek a hard-fought win. Swiatek put in 49% of her first serves and won 76% points. Niemeier put in 63% of her first serves and won 71% points. The biggest stat that distinguished the two players was the second-serve points won – Swiatek won 55% of her second-serve points to Niemeier’s 35%.
In terms of winners and unforced errors, Swiatek had 20 winners and 28 unforced errors to her rival’s 18 winners and 29 unforced errors. In the second round of the Australian Open, Iga Swiatek will now play Camila Osorio.
The Colombian won against Panna Udvardy, 6-4, 6-1.
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