It was a tough day for the Aussies in the women’s singles draw of the Adelaide International 1 on Thursday after Ajla Tomljanovic and wildcard Priscilla Hon both lost their round of 16 matches.
Tomljanovic had three match points in the second set against American No. 6 seed Sofia Kenin but was unable to make the most of her chances.
Kenin, the former world number four and 2020 Australian Open champion produced an incredible comeback, winning an epic contest that went for over two and a half hours in three sets, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.
In what promises to be a thrilling match, Kenin will now battle Aussie World No. 1 Ash Barty in the quarter-finals on Friday.
The first set was a good one for the 45th ranked Tomljanovic and in the fifth game with a parochial crowd behind her she broke Kenin’s serve to lead 3-2.
There was a slight scare for Tomljanovic when her serve was broken in the eighth game whilst up 5-2 and serving for the set, however she maintained her composure and broke Kenin’s serve to take the set 6-3.
The second set was all going to plan for the Aussie and when she was up 5-3 it was looking like an Aussie showdown with Ash Barty would occur. But Kenin had other ideas.
Whilst serving at 5-6, Kenin saved three match points and the gritty American refused to give in, fighting back to take the second set to a tie-break which she eventually won 7-5.
Kenin took all the momentum into the decider and when she led 3-0 it was danger signs for Tomljanovic.
Tomljanovic kept fighting and got it back to 3-2. Kenin then led 4-3 but the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-finalist did not give in and was one point away from making it 4-4.
However, the Aussie was unable to convert her opportunity and Kenin eventually went on to win the final set and the match.
Despite putting up a brave performance, the dream run of Aussie wildcard Priscilla Hon at the Adelaide International is over. Hon went down in straight sets to two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in their round of 16 match on Thursday.
Azarenka’s serving was a highlight in her 6-3, 7-5 victory. The former world number one had a winning percentage of 76% for first serves in the match and her experience proved the difference in the end.
In what is sure to be a crowd pleaser, the Belarusian will now take on last year’s Adelaide International champion Iga Swiatek from Poland in a quarter-final not to miss.
Swiatek was superb in her straight sets’ demolition of Leylah Fernandez earlier on Centre Court.
Azarenka praised her younger opponent and was happy to progress through to the next round.
“I felt like I played well, but there were some occasions where I got myself into trouble with hesitation,” she said.
“I have to give it to Priscilla; she really defended well and I am glad that I was able to finish strong.”
Hon certainly relished the challenge and despite losing the match she was not afraid to go for big shots. This was proven with the Aussie wildcard hitting 20 winners - four more than that of Azarenka.
The match was on serve earlier in the first set until Azarenka broke Hon’s serve to take a 3-2 lead.
At 0-30, Hon had a chance to even the first set up, however, Azarenka’s serve was too strong and she took a 4-2 lead. This kicked Azarenka into gear and she ended up taking it 6-3.
Azarenka took the momentum into the second set and after breaking Hon’s serve, she led 2-0.
With some classic rallies between the two, Hon finally broke Azarenka’s serve and then when she held serve in the fourth game, it was 2-2 and game on.
Azarenka got out to a 5-4 lead but Hon refused to give in and evened things up at 5-5.
The former world number one showed her class and composure and went on to win the second set and the match.
One of the tournament favourites - Iga Swiatek looms as a genuine threat to the rest of the women’s draw with a comprehensive straight sets victory over Canadian and last year’s US open finalist Leylah Fernandez in the round of 16 at the Adelaide International.
Swiatek has now extended her winning streak at the event to seven matches after she defeated Fernandez 6-1, 6-2. Her serving a feature with a winning percentage of 84% for first serves.
Post-match, Swiatek was understandably delighted with her demolition job of a highly fancied opponent.
“I was playing against a younger girl, she’s pretty talented and she’s a Grand Slam finalist,” she said.
“I knew it was going to be tricky.
I’m pretty happy that I could finish it really quickly and I didn’t let go of focus.”
Fernandez managed to save two break points in the second game of the first set in an epic game that went for 15 minutes and the crowd sensed they were in for a thrilling contest.
From there though it was all Swiatek in the first set. She was particularly good on serve and despite Fernandez having two game points in the sixth game, she was not able to take the opportunity with Swiatek going on to win the first set 6-1.
The second set was much the same as the first with Swiatek dominating her highly rated opponent and she went on to win it 6-2, now setting up a quarter-final battle with Azarenka.
Number one seed and 35-year-old Gael Monfils was at his entertaining best on Thursday night with a ruthless straight sets victory against Argentina’s Juan-Manuel Cerundolo.
The Frenchman only dropped three games and smacked 18 winners in his 6-1, 6-2 victory which lasted only 57 minutes.
His win sets up an enthralling quarter-final against tournament sixth seed Tommy Paul from the USA.
Monfils showed that he has not lost any of his athleticism despite being one of the veterans on the circuit with a mixture of superb ground strokes and some incredible volleys that had the crowd on their feet.
Cerundolo made 21 unforced errors compared to Monfils‘ 11 and simply had no answer for his French opponent.
There were mixed results for the Aussies in the doubles today with Australia’s pairing of Ash Barty and Storm Sanders through to the semi-finals after Leylah Fernandez withdrew due to a right thigh injury.
Unfortunately, Priscilla Hon and Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz went down in straight sets 2-6, 5-7 to Heather Watson (Great Britain) and Shelby Rogers (USA).
Watson and Rogers won the first set 6-2. Hon and Kempenaers-Pocz got out to a 5-4 lead in the second, however, they were unable to make the most of their opportunities. Their more experienced opponents went on to take the match and progress through to the semi-finals.