Australian Open: Wozniacki, Stephens and Barty stay on title course


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Australian Open: Wozniacki, Stephens and Barty stay on title course

The 3rd seed and the defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki is through to the third round in Melbourne for the 10th time following a rock solid 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Johanna Larsson in 66 minutes. The Dane landed 76% of the first serve, losing just 12 points in her games and fending off two break points to keep the service games intact while mounting the pressure on the other side of the court.

Caroline had 19 winners and 12 unforced errors and she controlled the pace from her rival who sprayed almost 30 unforced errors, never standing a chance against such a strong opponent. The match kicked off in the best possible way for the favorite who won 12 of the initial 14 points to forge a 3-0 lead, cruising through her service games and earning another break in game six before closing the set with two service winners in the following game after just 20 minutes.

The Swede fought off three break points at the start of the second set before suffering a break at love two games later after a weak volley that sent Caroline in front. The Dane saved two break points at 4-3 to maintain the lead, hitting a fantastic backhand down the line winner in the next game to seal the deal and march into the last 32.

The 15th seed and the home favorite Ashleigh Barty is through to the third round for the third straight year here, toppling Yafan Wang 6-2, 6-3 in just 65 minutes. The Aussie dropped 12 points in her games and she allowed Wang to break her once, erasing that deficit easily with almost 50% of the return points won, good enough for four breaks from 10 opportunities.

Ashleigh had the upper hand on the court, dictating the pace with her deep and precise groundstrokes that earned 29 winners for her with just 19 errors, something that the Chinese failed to repeat. Everything worked fine for the Aussie right from the start, settling into a great rhythm on serve with a solid display on the return as well to gain the lead with a break in game four.

Wang sprayed another forehand error at 2-5 to hand the set to Barty who lost the focus a little bit in the third game of the second set when she suffered a break, being forced to chase the result. That all changed in the sixth game when she pulled the break back with a forehand winner that gave her the momentum.

Barty broke again at 4-3 thanks to another forehand winner after a 32-stroke rally, cementing the victory with a service winner in game nine for the place in round three. The 5th seed Sloane Stephens has lost four straight matches in Melbourne before this year but she looks strong in 2019 campaign, advancing into the third round for the first time in five years after beating Timea Babos 6-3, 6-1.

The match lasted 95 minutes although the American controlled the scoreboard all the time, losing serve once and scoring five breaks to enter the last 32. Second round results:

[31]Petra Martic (CRO) vs Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 7-5
[19]Carolina Garcia (FRA) [WC]Zoe Hives (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) vs [20]Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [9]Kiki Bertens (NED) 3-6 6-3 6-3
[5]Sloane Stephens (USA) vs Timea Babos (HUN) 6-3 6-1
[15]Ashleigh Barty (AUS) vs Yafan Wang (CHN) 6-2 6-3
Maria Sakkari (GRE) vs [Q]Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-1 6-4
[3]Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-1 6-3