Iga Swiatek saw herself safely into round 3 of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a 6-2 6-3 win over Colombia’s Camila Osorio, while Maria Sakkari struggled against qualifier Diana Shnaider, and Anhelina Kalinina toppled Petra Kvitova.
Honestly, we never played each other, so I also didn't know what to expect. But I knew, like, overall, her game style, and what her base is. I really wanted to be solid in my, you know, approach shots and not, like, try to play every approach shot faster and faster, because then I'm going to take more risk. I knew that I just have to be patient. Well, there are some tactical stuff, but it wasn't different and against most of the players. Iga Świątek
While it was pretty much plain sailing for the World No 1 in a battle between two 21-year olds, Osorio made things tricky towards the end of their contest, which was played under the roof of Rod Laver Stadium as the rain poured down at Melbourne Park, further delaying play on the outside courts.
“It was really intense, and pretty physical,” Swiatek told the press, after her 1 hour and 24 minute win. “I think it was much tougher than what the score says.”
The Pole revealed that she had finally changed the music she uses to amp herself up going into her matches.
“I actually just changed my playlist before the match, and I was listening to the same songs for two years, so it was tough, but it’s working,” she said. “Hopefully these songs aren’t going to mess up my head!”
Osario, ranked 89, was determined to punch above her weight and, with her upper right leg heavily strapped, knew she could not afford be run ragged, so she let rip whenever an opening arose.
She had her moments, especially towards the end, but Swiatek settled faster at the start, and effortlessly opened up a 4-0 lead under the closed roof.
Both had stellar junior careers, with Swiatek winning 2018 Junior Wimbledon, and Osorio capturing the 2019 Junior US Open and rising to Junior World No 1.
“Honestly, we never played each other, so I also didn’t know what to expect,” Swiatek said later on court. “But I knew, like, overall, her game style, and what her base is.
“I really wanted to be solid in my, you know, approach shots and not, like, try to play every approach shot faster and faster, because then I’m going to take more risk.
“I knew that I just have to be patient. Well, there are some tactical stuff, but it wasn’t different and against most of the players.”
On Wednesday, Osorio’s ability to extend the rallies and change the direction of the ball down the line allowed her to hang with the World No 1 in a number of close games.
In fact, she broke her 3 times, including when the top seed served for the match at 6-2, 5-1, but in the end, the Swiatek power game carried her through.
Swiatek used her forehand to great effect, with 13 rally winners coming from that side, while she also won 64% of points returning Osorio’s first serve, and was also successful returning her opponent’s second serve, with 57% of those points won.
“I know [Osorio is] gonna fight till the end, and she’s not going to give anything for free,” Swiatek said. “She made some good decisions as well.
“I’m pretty happy that I was solid, and that’s the most important thing for me.”
Swiatek has now won 53 of her 65 main-draw Grand Slam singles matches, but there are more hurdles ahead for the World No 1, who takes on Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa in the next round, a 2-6 7-6(7) 6-4 winner over 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu from Canada.
Bucsa was down a set and a break before reeling off 5 straight games and holding a set point at 5-1 in the second set, but Andreescu fought all the way back into a tiebreak, where she held a match point at 6-5.
The Spaniard used superior defence to stave that off, then converted her 3rd set point with a passing winner down the line, and held on in the third to complete the upset.
Bucsa should not be taken lightly as the 25-year-old Spaniard has methodically risen up the ranks and is currently in her first week in the Top 100, but Swiatek was not turning her thoughts to her next challenge just yet, as relished the prospect of a night off after her early finish.
“Maybe tonight a nice dinner because I’ve been eating sushi for the whole week and I can’t look at it anymore,” she laughed “Tonight I’m, for sure, going to have a free evening, and it’s going to be much nicer because, yesterday, I was already thinking about the match, so I’m going to try to enjoy it.”
Later, Swiatek reflected on the delayed schedule on Day 3, saying: “I think it’s really bad for the players that had to wait yesterday whole day here because it’s really tiring, and they probably are going to have to stay another day on-site.
“Well, there’s nothing, I think, the tournament organisers can do, but I’m surprised that they didn’t put yesterday’s matches, like, earlier today on the stadiums, but I don’t know how it works, honestly.
“Maybe they had to, like, maybe they have like TV rights to put, I don’t know, seeded players or whatever on the stadiums. I don’t know,” she added.
On Margaret Court Arena, 6th-seeded Maria Sakkari from Greece avoided a shock loss to 18-year-old qualifier Diana Shnaider from Russia, securing a 3-6 7-5 6-3 come-back win to open Wednesday’s play under the roof.
“It’s never easy to play someone that you’ve never played before,” admitted the two-time major semi-finalist, who was surprised by Shnaider’s powerful forehand and serve. “I was a little hesitant, she was swinging very hard, she was playing very aggressive.”
The big-hitting left-handed Russian, an AO 2022 girls’ doubles champion, troubled the Greek early on, bossing her in the opening set, and striking 14 crisp winners to Sakkari’s 7, before the 6th seed asserted herself into the match.
“I was very far back from the base line, running and defending every single ball, which is not my game,” Sakkari explained. “I tried to be more aggressive, just [told] myself to go forward, go to the net.
“If you are not aggressive, they are going to eat you alive. No matter what your level is, you have to be brave, you have to go for it.
“There were moments in the match where I thought I was gonna lose, but then my belief somehow woke me up.”
Shnaider saved 2 match points, including one with an ace, before 27-year-old Sakkari slammed away a forehand winner to seal her 2nd-round win at AO 2023.
“I’m here for a reason,” Sakkari said. “I’ve shown myself and everyone I have a very good game and a game I can develop even more.”
In the 3rd-round, her game will be tested against China’s Zhu Lin, who upset 32nd seed Jil Teichmann from Switzerland, 6-2 6-2.
Elsewhere, 3rd seed Jessica Pegula from the USA advanced to the round of 32 for a 3rd consecutive year, conquering Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus, 6-2 7-6(5), on Rod Laver Arena.
Sasnovich broke Pegula as she served for the match at 5-4, but the two-time AO quarter-finalist never looked flustered.
“I just had to fend off her being really hot and, kind of, streaky there at the end, she was playing super aggressive,” Pegula reflected.
The even-keeled American, who stunned Swiatek at the United Cup, has a theory for her success Down Under.
“My game just really suits the conditions, the courts are pretty fast, the ball stays pretty low,” said the 28-year-old. “I hit pretty flat so I like that I can get into a good rhythm and, kind of, hit my way through the court.”
Unlike other superstitious players, or those who don’t want to think too far ahead, Pegula studies the draw.
In her own section, she dubbed Marta Kostyuk, the Ukrainian she could well meet next and who upset 28th seed Amanda Anisimova in the 1st-round, as ‘super talented’ and ‘really dangerous’.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic for the top-ranked women in action on Day 3, though, as 15th seed and 2019 finalist Petra Kvitova was toppled, 7-5 6-4, by another Ukrainian, Anhelina Kalinina, the country’s current No 1.
“She deserved to win for sure,” said Kvitova, ever gracious in defeat.
In a key turning point, Kalinina gritted out a 15-minute, 7-deuce game to break for 6-5 in the first set, converting her 5th break point of that tussle, and she went on to win from there.
The 25-year-old Ukrainian may be into the 3rd-round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, but unlike Pegula, she doesn’t believe in looking ahead at the draw.
When she eventually does look, Kalinina will see she is scheduled to meet another Czech, 20th seed Barbora Krejcikova, who dispatched Clara Burel, 6-4 6-1.
The 2021 Roland Garros champion took an hour and 29 minutes to dispatch the French qualifier and move into round 3.
Krejcikova, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals last year, had 6 more winners and 8 fewer unforced errors than Burel, a former Junior World No 1, and improved to 2-0 in their rivalry, having also prevailed over the Frencowman in the qualifying rounds of 2018 Roland Garros.
Also advancing to the 3rd-round was two-time AO semi-finalist and 10th seed, Madison Keys from the USA, who dismissed China’s Wang Xinyu, 6-3 6-2, and 17th seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who toughed out a 7-6(5) 5-7 6-0 win over Anna Bondar from Hungary.