Australian Open: Pliskova, Svitolina win; Muguruza takes offbeat route to round 2


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Australian Open: Pliskova, Svitolina win; Muguruza takes offbeat route to round 2

No let-down in 2020 momentum for Karolina Pliskova The 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist and the second seed began her 2020 Australian Open on Tuesday with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Kristina Mladenovic. Pliskova hit 20 winners, saved six of the seven break points she faced – while converting four of the six break points she had – and had 17 unforced errors en route to her 84-minute win.

Pliskova is unbeaten so far this year and has already won a title – at the Brisbane International – making her one of the contenders to go the farthest in the women’s draw at Melbourne Park. This was the fifth meeting between the two, with both having won two matches each.

At their last meeting, at the 2017 Dubai Open, the Frenchwoman had defeated the Czech and this match was touted to be one of the interesting openers at this year’s event. In her on-court interview after the win, Pliskova said, “It's a new beginning here.

It was a great start and some great matches, so a definite good start to the year”. Garbine Muguruza’s Bagel Buoyance The Spaniard made quite an entry into the second round after having won a bizarre encounter with qualifier Shelby Rogers.

The former world no. 1 won 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 in one and 34 minutes after it seemed that the illness that had forced her to miss the Hobart International last week was wreaking havoc with her health in Melbourne as well. However, the turnaround bemusing as it was did come as relief about her game.

Muguruza converted just six of the 15 break points she had, with three each coming in the second and third sets. In the third set, she faced no break points. She had 20 winners to Rogers’ 15 and had 22 unforced errors to Rogers’ 27.

Americans Move into Second Round Tenth seed Madison Keys needed just 57 minutes to get the better of Daria Kasatkina. Keys won 6-3, 6-1. Kasatkina hit just five winners but had four times as many unforced errors – 29.

The 2017 US Open finalist had 29 winners and 24 unforced errors off her racquet. She finished the match with 62 points to the Russian’s 39. The bigger American story of the day was that of Cici Bellis. The 20-year-old who is playing her first Grand Slam event – since the 2018 Australian Open – made a promising start to her journey.

Now ranked 600th, Bellis defeated Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2 in 52 minutes. Bellis, who has had four surgeries in the two years she was away from the pro-Tour, converted all five break points she had while saving both break points she faced.

She had twice as many winners as Maria – 22 to 11 and had 10 unforced errors to Maria’s 15. Bellis will play the 20th seed Karolina Muchova. Muchova defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(7). Elina Svitolina Survives Boulter Comeback The fifth-seed lost her service-break lead at crucial times across both sets.

However, her persistence coupled with her opponent Katie Boulter’s errant play helped Svitolina get past to the second round in straight sets. The Ukrainian won 6-4, 7-5 in 81 minutes. Despite the defeat, the takeaways were positive for the Briton, who is trying to put past a back injury.

Commentating on BBC, coach and Andy and Jamie Murray’s mother, Judy Murray acknowledged Boulter’s effort. Murray said, “Very, very encouraging performance from Boulter. It was a tough draw. She had runs of really good play where she dictated but a lack of match fitness led to a run of errors but from where she has come from, I think her team will be pleased with that performance”.

Other Results Boulter’s compatriot and 12th seed, Johanna Konta – who is dealing with recurring knee-injury problems – also lost in the first round. Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur upset the world no. 13 6-4, 6-2.

Twenty-second seed Maria Sakkari defeated Margarita Gasparyan 6-2, 6-2. Meanwhile, Latvian players had a mixed day on the courts today. Jelena Ostapenko won against Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova 6-1, 6-4. Ostapenko’s 31st seeded countrywoman Anastasija Sevastova lost to Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-1.

Eighteenth seed, the USA’s Alison Riske won against Yafan Wang 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-3 while her compatriot Lauren Davis defeated qualifier Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-2. Twenty-third seed Dayana Yastremska won against their fellow American Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2.

However, it was tough luck for the 21st seeded American Amanda Anisimova. Zarina Diyas upset the 18-year-old 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Lastly, sixth seed Belinda Bencic took a 6-3, 7-5 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Photo Credit: Australian Open