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News | WTA Tennis English

News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MELBOURNE, Australia – Six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams leads the bottom half of the draw into action on Day Two at Melbourne Park. Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska are also in action on the last day of Round 1. We preview all the day’s matchups right here at

Tuesday, First Round

[2] Serena Williams (USA #2) vs Belinda Bencic (SUI #59)
Head-to-head: Tied at 1-1
Key Stat: 2017 Australian Open marks first Grand Slam where Serena hasn’t been top seed since 2013 Australian Open (No.3)

Belinda Bencic’s reaction to the draw is quite different to how you’d think someone would react when finding out their first-round opponent is six-time champion Serena Williams:

“My first reaction was actually, like, really happy,” Bencic told press ahead of the match. “I’m super-pumped, like excited I get to play on the big court, I guess.

“Yeah, everyone is like, ‘Oh, bad luck with the draw.’ Me, I’m pretty happy and excited about it!”

Bencic has a reason to feel good: back in 2015, she scored the biggest victory of her career over Serena at the Rogers Cup, becoming one of just 3 players to defeat the American that year.

But a lot has changed since in two years, and injury woes have caused the Swiss wunderkind’s ranking to plummet. And Serena – as always – has her eye on making history and reclaiming the No.1 ranking in Melbourne Park.

“All I can do is do my best,” Serena said. “If I can play the way I’ve been practicing, it will be fine. I know she’s been playing well, so it will be good for both of us.”

Agnieszka Radwanska

[3] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #3) vs Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL #64)
Head-to-head: Radwanska leads 9-3
Key Stat: Pironkova’s last Top 5 win came over Radwanska in 2016 Roland Garros R16

World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska has many positives to take away from her run to the Apia International Sydney final: before getting thoroughly outclassed in the last match by Johanna Konta, Radwanska hadn’t dropped a set all tournament long and her tricky, deliberate game was flowing freely.

“Of course, losing finals always is disappointing,” Radwanska reflected in pre-tournament press. “But it’s still a good week with great matches against top players.

“I’m very confident. I really hope I can play the same tennis, even the tennis I played in the final. But every tournament is different story, especially in the tough first round.”

After the quick turnaround to Melbourne, Radwanska will bring all of that confidence and preparation against an opponent who has troubled her in the past: Tsvetana Pironkova. The pair have met 12 times previously, with the Bulgarian stunning Radwanska in the fourth round of Roland Garros.

“Pironkova is a very tricky opponent,” she said. “I’m expecting everything from her side. For sure it’s going to be a lot of running. I’m going to really have to work on each point.”

Karolina Pliskova

[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE #6) vs Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP #106)
Head-to-head: First meeting
Key Stat: Sorribes Tormo is playing just the second Grand Slam main draw match of her career

After her dominant performance at the Brisbane International, where she claimed the first title of her season, Karolina Pliskova took two days off before heading straight to Melbourne.

“I’ve been practicing here since Tuesday. Even yesterday,” the Czech said in pre-tournament press. “But I’ve been feeling good so far. I was even ready for Monday start, but will be ready even for Tuesday.

“That’s what I did in New York, as well. So I just did it here. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I just want to leave everything in this tournament.”

But despite her red-hot start to 2017, Pliskova wouldn’t be drawn into discussing her Australian Open chances – not even on the eve of the tournament after drawing Sara Sorribes Tormo in the opening round.

“I would definitely not take me as a favorite of this tournament. It’s a big draw,” the Czech said in pre-tournament press. “There is a lot of players. I just take it step by step.”

“I just know my opponent from the first round. I want to pass this one. Then we can talk about the next one.”

Her opponent, Sorribes Tormo, is a 20-year-old Spaniard who might be out of her depths against the big-hitting Czech: this will be the just the second Grand Slam main draw match of her career, and her first match against a Top 10 opponent.

Around the grounds…
Reigning WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova will open against No.90-ranked Denisa Allertova on Day 2. The Slovak reached the final here in 2014, and will hope her 2016 momentum will carry her to a maiden Grand Slam title. Britain’s No.1 Johanna Konta will square off against Kirsten Flipkens – Konta leads the head-to-head 2-1.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MELBOURNE, Australia – An ageless Venus Williams played remarkable tennis in the high heat of the Australian Open, knocking out a game Kateryna Kozlova, 7-6(5), 7-5.

“Girl, I don’t know,” Venus joked when asked how she got the job done during her on-court interview. “I know how to play tennis, and I like to think I’m good at this. She hasn’t had the years I’ve had, the grey hair I’m dyeing, the wrinkles I’m hiding.”

Seeded No.13, Venus was playing just her second match of 2017 after withdrawing from the ASB Classic due to right-arm pain, and was taking on a tricky opponent in Kozlova, who took her to three sets at the US Open last summer. In an ironic twist, the 22-year-old was born the same year Venus turned pro back in 1994.

“You’re trying to make me feel old!” joked Williams.

Kozlova served for the first set but the seven-time Grand Slam champion’s experience shone through when it mattered most, breaking the young Ukrainian to win the ensuing tie-break.

“Just from the warm-up it looked like she was just ready to go, hitting it solid,” she said in her post-match press conference. “I really have to give her a lot of credit for playing a match that was not a lot of errors and just relentless.

“I guess when I walk out there I have to expect that from my opponents and not an easy first round, but a great first round to get through, for sure.”

Venus appeared to struggle with the heat at times, relying on ice towels to keep cool during the changeovers.

“I’m a Floridian, so I’m pretty good with heat,” she admitted. “But obviously, if it’s going to be hot, I think with players, you can train in the heat the week before. This last week it was kind of cool, actually, a lot of the time. So it’s definitely a wildcard, like, total wildcard.”

Despite losing some momentum in the second set, the American rebounded to take the last three games of the match and advance into the second round after just over two hours.

Up next for the former World No.1 is either Stefanie Voegele or Kurumi Nara.

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News | WTA Tennis English

News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MELBOURNE, Australia – No.7 seed Garbiñe Muguruza survived a scare in her opening match against Marina Erakovic to move into the second round at the Australian Open in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4.

“Marina and I played a couple of times and it’s always a tough match,” Muguruza said in her on-court interview. “I’m happy, even with my body, that I won. It was very tough.”

Earlier in the season in Brisbane, Muguruza was forced to retire from her semifinal against Alizé Cornet due to a right thigh injury, and it seemed like the pain still lingered in her Melbourne opener.

Despite taking a close opening set, Muguruza’s movement appeared to be hampered and she struggled with her timing, her usually powerful groundstrokes at times lacking their bite.

Marina Erakovic

The Spaniard’s problems multiplied in the second set, as Erakovic took every opportunity Muguruza’s condition handed her and went up a 4-1 lead.

“It was very tough. You’re playing, then suddenly you start to feel pain in your body,” Muguruza explained. “Obviously I was nervous, so I just tried to be calm, to have a good attitude and keep fighting for the match.”

The New Zealander wasn’t able to hang on to that lead for very long, as Muguruza – with great effort – came roaring back. Erakovic seemed to lose her confidence as Muguruza climbed back up the scoreboard, finally rattling off five straight games to take the match.

Through to the second round in the Australian Open for the fifth straight time, Muguruza awaits the winner of the match between Samantha Crawford and ASB Classic champion Lauren Davis.

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