It was a crazy day of tennis on Tuesday at the Adelaide International 2 with two of the top ten women's seeds and the No.5 men’s seed, South African Lloyd Harris being eliminated in the first round.
In extreme heat, No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 7 Jill Teichmann both lost their matches against qualifiers in three sets, a day after No. 2 seed Ukrainian Elina Svitolina lost in straight sets to American Madison Keys on Monday.
USA qualifier Lauren Davis upset Teichmann 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 and No. 3 seed, Cori “Coco” Gauff showed she could be one of the favourites for the tournament with a 6-1, 6-2 win against Czech Katerina Siniakova.
Gauff smacked 19 winners compared to her opponents 10 in a match that lasted just 62 minutes.
Having reached her highest ranking of 19 in late 2021, she pushed World No. 1, Ash Barty, to three sets last week at the Adelaide International 1.
Gauff will take on fellow teenager, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, who defeated American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4.
Davis will battle Italian Jasmine Paolini who defeated Aussie Storm Sanders earlier today.
Current World No. 2 Sabalenka was in tears during the last set and eventually succumbed to Swede qualifier Rebecca Peterson 7-5, 1-6, 5-7.
Sabalenka could barely get the ball into the court in the final set and was serving with little power, the chair umpire Julie Kjendlie even intervening at one stage.
Ms Kjendlie asked if Sabalenka was okay to which she responded in a harsh manner.
“There’s nothing I can do, it’s my technical problem, I’m trying”, she said.
Channel Nine Commentator and Australian former World No. 4 Jelena Dokic showed empathy for the No. 1 seed during the match.
“It’s tough, I feel for her,” Dokic said.
“This is hard to watch, the fact she’s in tears out on the court, I’m genuinely concerned for Sabalenka.”
With the Australian Open beginning on January 17, it is not the ideal preparation for Sabalenka after she lost in straight sets to Slovenia’s World No. 100 Kaja Juvan in Adelaide last week.
The Belarusian ended up with a staggering 21 double faults and 61 unforced errors compared to her opponents 30.
Whilst Sabalenka was out of sorts, Peterson was impressive and will now take on Madison Brengle from the USA.
After dropping the first set, 7-5, Peterson bounced back and took control of the match completely dominating Sabalenka in the second set 6-1 in just 31 minutes.
Sabalenka started better in the final set and broke Peterson’s serve twice to lead 3-1.
Unfortunately, Sabalenka’s serve continued to be an issue and Peterson took full advantage to make it 4-3 and eventually went on to win it 7-5.
Harris, the current World No. 32 lost an epic first-round contest against Korean Soonwoo Kwon 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.
Kwon will now play Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in the second round after he defeated American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3.
It was a mixed day for the Aussies with local boy Thanasi Kokkinakis and Maddison Inglis progressing to the second round, however, Storm Sanders and another SA local Alex Bolt lost their first-round matches in straight sets.
Kokkinakis continued his great form on Centre Court tonight with an impressive 6-4, 6-0 victory over former World No. 18 Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Hometown hero Kokkinakis made it to the semi-finals last week at the Adelaide International 2 where he went down to eventual championship winner Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Up next for the South Aussie is another tough challenge against the big-serving American and No. 2 seed John Isner.
After the match, Kokkinakis was happy to progress through to the second round of the tournament.
“Yeah, it was good, I was pretty knackered after last week, a little bit in two minds about how to go about this week,” Kokkinakis said.
“I wasn’t sure whether to freshen up and get ready for Melbourne or play here.
“My body was alright physically and another chance to play at home, to play a tour event, yeah I couldn’t pass that down.
“I’m just happy with the win.”
The first set lasted 47 minutes with both players serving eight aces each and there was little between the pair with Kokkinakis winning 93% of first-serve points and Paire with an equally impressive 88%.
The turning point in the first set came in the seventh game, with the scores 3-3 and on serve, Kokkinakis broke Paire’s serve for the first time in the match.
Paire only won one more game for the rest of the match and at times seemed disinterested.
The Frenchman started rushing between points on serve, picked up a code violation and was very quick to pack up his racquet bag and exit the court after the match.
In the women’s singles, Maddison Inglis progressed to the second round after she defeated Montenegrin Lucky-Loser Danka Kovinic 6-4,1-6, 6-2.
It’s a tough challenge up next for the 23-year-old Western Australian who will take on No. 4 seed Slovenian Tamara Zidansek.
Zidansek was also pushed to three sets, finally getting over the line against Great Britain qualifier Heather Watson, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).
Inglis was happy to get the win against an opponent that she rated highly and looks forward to a big challenge up next against the No. 4 seeded Zidansek.
“It was a bit of a tough match, Danka is a really good player,” Inglis said.
“I felt like I started the match really well, obviously got the first and then she played really well in the second.
“I just came back a bit stronger at the end I think to finish it off.
“It was good, it was a good match.
“Yeah, I’ve never played Tamara, never practised with her.
“I mean she’s obviously a really good player and I look forward to getting back out there tomorrow and hopefully having a battle.”
Inglis got off to a good start, leading 5-3, Kovinic held serve to make it 5-4, however, Inglis maintained her composure when serving for the first set taking it 6-4.
At 1-1 in the second set, Kovinic took control of the match and went on to win it convincingly 6-1.
Inglis got the match back on her terms in the third set and went on to win it 6-2.
American qualifier and former World No. 21 Steve Johnson has set up a rematch with the hard-hitting Aleksandar Vukic after Johnson defeated Murray Bridge local and wildcard Alex Bolt 6-4, 6-4.
Johnson defeated Vukic last week in the first round at the Adelaide International 1 in what was an enthralling three-set battle, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Despite Johnson winning in straight sets against Bolt, there wasn’t a great deal between the two.
The American led the winners 27 as opposed to Bolt’s 21, however, the difference being on serve where the South Aussie was unable to break Johnson’s serve during the match.
Johnson was off to the perfect start, breaking Bolt’s serve in the first game and holding serve to take a 2-0.
Bolt’s serve was broken again and Johnson led 5-3, serving to stay in the first set the Aussie wildcard kept his composure and held serve to make it 5-4.
Johnson was serving too well though and despite Bolt’s best efforts, the American World No. 84 went on to win the first set 6-4.
The second set was much of the same, there were some terrific rallies between the two.
Johnson was again able to break Bolt’s serve whilst he managed to hold serve without a break for the second successive set, going on to win it 6-4.
Bolt now has the Australian Open to look forward to where he has been given a wildcard into the main draw.
Earlier, Aussie qualifier Storm Sanders lost her match against Italian Jasmine Paolini, 7-5, 6-2.
In stifling heat, the first set was an arm wrestle with Paolini taking it 7-5.
Sanders had her chances in the first set, with the game evenly matched at 3-3, Paolini got ahead 4-3 and took control of the match.
Paolini dealt with the heat better and dominated the second set to run away with it 6-2 and set up a clash with US qualifier Lauren Davis who upset Switzerland’s No. 7 seed, Jil Teichmann, earlier in the day.
In women’s doubles action, Aussie pair Annerly Poulos and Tina Smith were defeated 1-6, 1-6 by Alicja Rosolska (Poland) and Erin Routliffe (New Zealand).