Second seed Elina Svitolina crashed out of the Viking International in Eastbourne at the last-16 stage on Wednesday with a straight sets defeat to Elena Rybakina.

The world number five lost 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to 21st-ranked Rybakina, whose reward is a meeting with Coco Gauff's conqueror Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada also lost in straight sets, Anett Kontaveit of Estonia beating her 6-3 6-3.

And it was the same story for fourth seed Iga Swiatek, though she at least took a set as she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina.

It took an impressive rally from Russia's Kasatkina to bounce back from losing the first en route to a 4-6 6-0 6-1 success.

She will now face Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Ons Jabeur 5-7 6-4 6-3.

In fact, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was the only seed to avoid a surprise exit on Wednesday as she cruised through.

The Belarussian, ranked fourth in the world, beat Alison Riske 6-1 6-4 in just over an hour to set up a clash with Camila Giorgi.

Giorgi had earlier followed up a win over defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the last round by beating Shelby Rogers 6-3 4-6 6-2.

There was no such string of shocks at Wednesday's other WTA event, the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, though first and second seeds Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka needed three sets to progress.

Kvitova lost a second-set tie-break as she beat Ann Li 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 to reach the quarters, while Azarenka defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

Angelique Kerber, the fourth seed, progressed more smoothly, earning a comfortable 6-0 6-2 win over Russia's Anna Blinkova.

And Nadia Podoroska saw off the challenge of Patricia Maria Tig, winning 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4.

The top three seeds fell at the bett1open on Wednesday as Aryna Sabalenka followed Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu out of the tournament.

A 6-4 1-6 7-5 victory for Madison Keys over top seed Sabalenka capped a day of upsets in Berlin.

American Keys fought back from a set down to bundle the world number four out in an hour and 29 minutes.

The battling Sabalenka saved 10 break points but was unable to avoid an early exit in the inaugural grass-court event.

Second seed Svitolina started her grass-court season with a 6-4 7-5 defeat to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Russian Alexandrova fended off seven set points in the second set before sending the world number six, who was given a first-round bye, packing.

Svitolina, playing her first match since crashing out of the French Open in the third round, became the fourth top-10 scalp for Alexandrova, who will face Belinda Bencic in her fifth quarter-final of the year.

Andreescu's first match on grass since Wimbledon qualifying three years ago ended in a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 loss to Alize Cornet.

The third seed from Canada parted with her long-time coach Sylvain Bruneau after she was beaten by Tamara Zidansek in the first round at Roland Garros and was unable to hit the ground running on grass.

Bencic, the fifth seed, advanced with a 6-3 5-4 success over Petra Martic.

Iga Swiatek celebrated her 20th birthday in style on Monday, overcoming Kaja Juvan in straight sets to get her French Open title defence off to a strong start.

Swiatek clinched her maiden grand slam – and first senior career title – at Roland Garros in 2020, and the Pole was in supreme form as she confidently saw off close friend Juvan 6-0 7-5.

A champion in Rome in the lead-up to Roland Garros, Swiatek made it 20 game wins in a row – dating back to her Internazionali d'Italia semi-final against Coco Gauff – until Juvan held her own in the second game of the second set.

Swiatek saved two break points at 5-5 before wrapping up the win.

"It's never easy to play against your best friend," Swiatek said after the match. "I have some experience because I played with Kaja for a few times. I've played with my other friends on junior level.

"You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game.

"I think I'm doing that pretty well. It's nice to have that skill. So I was just trying to treat Kaja as any other girl, as any other opponent, because in sports when we are on court you can't have thoughts that are you going to make your game softer."

ANGUISH FOR ANDREESCU 

There was no such route through for Bianca Andreescu, the sixth seed coming unstuck against world number 85 Tamara Zidansek.

Andreescu's stint at this year's French Open lasted three hours and 20 minutes, but the world number four could not find a way through and duly became the biggest women's casualty of the first round so far.

The 2019 US Open champion headed into the tournament on the back of pulling out of a quarter-final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg due to an abdominal injury and was playing in only her third tour-level match on clay. She won the opening set on a tie-break, yet it was Zidansek who prevailed 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-2) 9-7 to claim her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Kiki Bertens was another seed to drop out, the number 16 going down 6-1 3-6 6-4 to Polona Hercog.

KENIN BATTLES ON

World number five Sofia Kenin saw off a tough challenger in the form of 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko.

"I knew it was gonna be a tough match, she's a great player," Kenin said, after a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory. "I knew I needed to play my best tennis in order to win."

Kenin, 22, came from a break down twice to take the opening set, and though Ostapenko hit back, American Kenin held her nerve in the decider, setting up a second-round tie with compatriot Hailey Baptiste.

"I'm a feisty kid, and I have to fight in order to win," added Kenin, who lost to Swiatek in last year's final but has struggled for results in 2021. "I've got a little bit of feistiness in me and that helps me in these types of matches."

Bianca Andreescu was in good form again as she saw off Maryna Zanevska to reach the last eight at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Until this week the Canadian had been absent from the WTA Tour since making the final in Miami back in March, missing recent events after a positive COVID-19 test.

But she has now won two straight matches on clay for the first time in her career, having barely played on the surface at tour level before.

Top seed Andreescu was playing an opponent ranked outside of the world's top 250 for a second straight day, though she emphatically did the job against qualifier Zanevska, winning 6-1 6-4 in just 65 minutes.

Aside from needing to recover from 4-2 down in the second set, Andreescu had few problems and converted all five of the break points she forced in the contest.

However, the second seed at the WTA 250 event is out.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Jessica Pegula was upset by Arantxa Rus, losing 6-4 6-4.

Pegula won only 10 of her 31 points on second serve as she was broken on five occasions.

But there was relief for seventh seed Shelby Rogers, who won an epic contest lasting three hours and 23 minutes against fellow American Christina McHale.

Rogers won 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 in a memorable clash. The eventual winner was a point away from wrapping up the victory in straight sets before later needing to save a match point herself in the decider.

Bianca Andreescu had little trouble in her first outing on clay this season, easing past Andrea Lazaro Garcia at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Andreescu had been absent from the WTA Tour since making the final in Miami back in March, when she was forced to retire when a set and 4-0 down against Ashleigh Barty due to an ankle injury.

A positive COVID-19 test result ruled her out of competing in Madrid and also Rome, though the Canadian showed few signs of rust on her return.

The top seed defeated the world number 279 – who was making her main-draw debut after coming through qualifying – in just 61 minutes, a 6-1 6-2 triumph sealed in a hurry thanks to five breaks of serve.

Champion at the 2019 US Open, Andreescu did not play in any grand slam event last year. She has only featured in the main draw at the French Open once before, reaching the second round at Roland Garros two years ago.

"I feel really, really good," the world number seven said after an impressive opening display. "I had really good preparation coming into this tournament, so I'm super happy."

Also in action on Monday, Yulia Putintseva overcame Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson via a tie-break in the deciding set of their see-saw contest.

The fourth seed eventually prevailed 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) after three hours and 20 minutes on court, booking her a spot in the last 16 of the tournament.

Zhang Shuai was successful in her first outing, beating Misaki Doi 7-5 6-4. Barbora Krejcikova was another seed to make it through, having led 6-3 3-0 when opponent Oceane Dodin retired.

Caroline Garcia overcame Zarina Diyas 7-5 6-2, while Maryna Zanevska needed less than an hour to overcome Yuliya Hatouka 6-2 6-1 and set up a clash with Andreescu.

Jil Teichmann was also a winner in straight sets against Anna Blinkova, but Venus Williams' campaign is over early after going out to Sorana Cirstea, who dominated a decider to triumph 6-1 2-6 6-1.

World number one Ash Barty defended the WTA Miami Open title after opponent Bianca Andreescu retired injured in the second set of Saturday's final.

Barty was well in command of the showpiece, leading 6-3 4-0, when Andreescu was forced to end the contest prematurely. The Canadian had turned her ankle in the second game of the second set.

It was not the way Barty would have wanted to retain a title for the first time in her career, but the Australian is now on a 12-match winning streak in Miami.

Moreover, it is now 13 wins from 16 matches against top-10 opponents and six straight for Barty, while she now has 10 WTA titles and two in 2021.

The injury made for a disappointing end to a brave tournament for Andreescu, who won four consecutive three-set matches to make the final.

The 20-year-old will be hoping her latest problem is not serious, with the 2019 US Open champion having missed the entirety of last season due to injury.

Barty's wicked forehands were causing problems early on and it was a fine passing winner that earned the first break, and in no time Andreescu was 3-1 adrift.

The plucky Andreescu forced her opponent into some errors to break back, but a backhand cross-court winner in the next game saw Barty regain an advantage she would not relinquish – finishing the first set with 11 winners to the Canadian's six – including three aces.

A double fault allowed Barty to take an early break in the second set, and an understandably tearful Andreescu battled on for two games after the trip before finally calling it a day in unfortunate circumstances.

World number one Ashleigh Barty maintained her winning run in Miami with her best performance of the 2021 tournament to date dispatching of Elina Svitolina to book a spot in the final.

Barty defeated fifth seed Svitolina 6-3 6-3 in Thursday's semi-final, hitting 27 winners and breaking her Ukrainian opponent five times.

The Australian had been down a match point in her opening clash of this year's Miami Open against Kristina Kucova but the 2019 champion has responded to every challenge since.

However, Barty needed three sets to overcome both Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka in earlier rounds before making more light work of Svitolina to make it 11 straight wins in Miami, given 2020's event was cancelled.

Barty will play 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in Saturday's final after she defeated Naomi Osaka's conqueror Maria Sakkari 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-4) in Thursday's other semi-final.

"Yeah, I think it was," Barty said in her on-court interview when asked if it was her best match of the tournament.

"I think [with] Elina, you have to produce your best tennis. Happy with the way we were able to execute today."

Svitolina went into the match with a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over Barty, while the Australian had not played on foreign soil prior to the event since February 2020, opting to step away from the tour during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"With the head-to-head we had, I almost see myself as the underdog, I really do," Barty said.

"It gives me the chance to go out there and play with freedom. To play not careless but carefree tennis."

Barty has reinforced her world number one ranking from Osaka, who lost to Sakkari in the quarters, by progressing this far although adding a second Miami Open title will be top priority.

The 24-year-old 2019 French Open champion had a medical timeout between sets to tend to a preexisting abdominal issue but said she would be fine for the decider on Saturday.

"Yeah, I was a little bit sore," she said. "I got some assistance with some tape on it. But knowing we’ve got a day to recover tomorrow, I promise you I’ll be right as rain and then we’ll be good to go."

Eighth seed Andreescu booked her place in the decider with a strong three-set victory over 23rd seed Sakkari in a match which finished in the early hours of Friday morning.

The Canadian won in two hours and 42 minutes in a match full of momentum shifts, as Andreescu won her fourth three-setter in five matches in Miami this week.

World number one Ashleigh Barty maintained her winning run in Miami with her best performance of the 2021 tournament to date dispatching of Elina Svitolina to book a spot in the final.

Barty defeated fifth seed Svitolina 6-3 6-3 in Thursday's semi-final, hitting 27 winners and breaking her Ukrainian opponent five times.

The Australian had been down a match point in her opening clash of this year's Miami Open against Kristina Kucova but the 2019 champion has responded to every challenge since.

However, Barty needed three sets to overcome both Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka in earlier rounds before making more light work of Svitolina to make it 11 straight wins in Miami, given 2020's event was cancelled.

Barty will play 2019 U.S. Open winner Bianca Andreescu in Saturday's final after she defeated Naomi Osaka's conqueror Maria Sakkari 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-4) in Thursday's other semi-final.

"Yeah, I think it was," Barty said in her on-court interview when asked if it was her best match of the tournament.

"I think [with] Elina, you have to produce your best tennis. Happy with the way we were able to execute today."

Svitolina went into the match with a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over Barty, while the Australian had not played on foreign soil prior to the event since February 2020, opting to step away from the tour during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"With the head-to-head we had, I almost see myself as the underdog, I really do," Barty said.

"It gives me the chance to go out there and play with freedom. To play not careless but carefree tennis."

Barty has reinforced her world number one ranking from Osaka, who lost to Sakkari in the quarters, by progressing this far although adding a second Miami Open title will be top priority.

The 24-year-old 2019 French Open champion had a medical timeout between sets to tend to a preexisting abdominal issue but said she would be fine for the decider on Saturday.

"Yeah, I was a little bit sore," she said. "I got some assistance with some tape on it. But knowing we’ve got a day to recover tomorrow, I promise you I’ll be right as rain and then we’ll be good to go."

Eighth seed Andreescu booked her place in the decider with a strong three-set victory over 23rd seed Sakkari in a match which finished in the early hours of Friday morning.

The Canadian won in two hours and 42 minutes in a match full of momentum shifts, as Andreescu won her fourth three-setter in five matches in Miami this week.

Maria Sakkari insisted there was still room for improvement despite ending Naomi Osaka's 23-match winning streak in stunning fashion at the Miami Open.

Osaka had not lost for over a year prior to Wednesday's outing, putting together the ninth-longest unbeaten run seen on the WTA Tour since the start of 2000.

However, this year's Australian Open champion was simply unable to match her opponent's high standards in their quarter-final clash, resulting in a 6-0 6-4 triumph for the excellent Sakkari.

World number 25 Sakkari had battled hard to get past Jessica Pegula in the previous round – including saving six match points – but needed just 69 minutes to see off four-time grand slam champion Osaka, who managed just five winners during her surprisingly brief stint out on court.

Afterwards, Sakkari revealed how coach Tom Hill helped devise a strategy to trouble the second seed – albeit she had to come from 3-0 down after a difficult start to the second set.

"I don't think tennis-wise it was like the best tennis I have ever played in my life," said Sakkari, according to the WTA Tour's website.

"I think I executed our strategy with Tom really well. I just did what I had to do. I'm not gonna tell you what. What we discussed before the match, I just did it most of the match, except maybe a couple of games where things didn't go right."

Osaka's previous loss was back in February 2020, when she was also beaten in straight sets by Sara Sorribes Tormo at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Since then, she has won last year's US Open and then the first grand slam in 2021, though the loss to Sakkari did not come as a complete surprise to her having struggled for rhythm in Miami.

"She's a really big fighter so I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I felt like I haven't been playing well this whole tournament," Osaka said.

"I couldn't find a groove, so mentally it's really hard for me to play against really high-quality players with what I feel is low-quality tennis."

Next up for Sakkari in the semi-finals is another former grand slam champion – Bianca Andreescu.

Triumphant at Flushing Meadows in 2019, eighth seed Andreescu outlasted Sorribes Tormo 6-4 3-6 6-3 in the day's final match at the WTA Premier event.

World number two Naomi Osaka and defending champion Ash Barty advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open.

Osaka reached the last eight at the WTA Premier event for the first time in her career thanks to Monday's straight-sets win over Elise Mertens.

World number one Barty overcame two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka in a tough three-set battle in Miami.

 

THERE'S NO STOPPING OSAKA

Australian Open champion Osaka extended her winning streak to a remarkable 23 matches.

Osaka defeated 16th seed Mertens 6-3 6-3 to stay hot – Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Azarenka are the only other players with winning streaks of 23 or more matches since 2000.

"It definitely feels very special," four-time major winner Osaka said. "This is one of my favourite tournaments to play, and of course I'm sad I hadn't been able to get to the second week the last times that I have played this tournament. But I'm here now, and hopefully it will go well this time."

Maria Sakkari is next for Osaka after the 23rd seed saved six match points in her 6-4 2-6 7-6 (8-6) win over Jessica Pegula.

 

BARTY WINS BATTLE OF PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER ONES

In a rollercoaster battle, top seed Barty prevailed 6-1 1-6 6-2 against 14th seed Azarenka.

Barty extended her winning streak in Miami to nine matches after coming out on top against the former world number one.

"Playing against Vika you have to be ready right from the first point," Barty said. "I felt like I did that well in the first set and she gave me a few cheap errors. Then through the second she lifted her intensity.

"I probably wasn't sharp enough in those first couple of games to be able to go with her, particularly with new balls. When Vika is ahead and she's a front runner, she's the very best in the world."

Aryna Sabalenka stands in the way of Barty and the semi-finals after the seventh seed trounced Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-2.

 

SVITOLINA WINS THRILLER, ANDREESCU RALLIES

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina rallied past two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova 2-6 7-5 7-5.

Svitolina made a slow start against the red-hot ninth seed, but the 2018 WTA Finals champion finished strongly to progress.

Anastasija Sevastova took down Ana Konjuh 6-1 7-5 to set up a clash with Svitolina.

Meanwhile, eighth seed and 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu came from behind to defeat two-time slam winner Garbine Muguruza 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Naomi Osaka did not raise a sweat en route to the Miami Open last 16 as Garbine Muguruza moved through but Sofia Kenin and Karolina Pliskova bowed out.

Australian Open champion and second seed Osaka benefited from a walkover after qualifier Nina Stojanovic withdrew ahead of Sunday's clash due to a right thigh injury.

Elise Mertens will face Osaka following the 16th seed's 6-2 0-6 6-2 win against Anett Kontaveit.

Two-time grand slam winner Muguruza rallied past Russian wildcard Anna Kalinskaya at the WTA Premier event.

However, fourth seed Kenin was sent packing as sixth seed Pliskova was tamed by nemesis Jessica Pegula in Miami.

 

MUGURUZA STAYS HOT

Spanish star Muguruza dug deep to earn her tour-leading 20th win of the season.

Former world number one Muguruza – the 12th seed – prevailed 4-6 6-3 6-4 against Kalinskaya, having trailed 3-0 in the final set.

"I brought my fighting spirit and I could match the level of fighting against Anna, and very happy to go through these tough matches," Muguruza said following two hours, 41 minutes on court.

"Doesn't matter if you play pretty or you play ugly, but you stay strong and you go through these rounds. That gives me an opportunity to feel better and to have another chance."

Muguruza – who has the most final appearances this season with three, having won the Dubai Tennis Championships and finished runner-up at the Qatar Open and Yarra Valley Classic – will next face eighth seed Bianca Andreescu.

Former US Open champion Andreescu overcame fellow seed Amanda Anisimova 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (2-7) 6-4.

 

KENIN'S WOES CONTINUE

It has been a rough 2021 for American star Kenin.

Stunned in the second round of the Australian Open – in her title defence – Kenin then crashed out of the Phillip Island Trophy at the first hurdle.

Kenin rallied to beat Andrea Petkovic first-up in Miami, but the 22-year-old was beaten 6-4 4-6 6-4 by 27th seed Ons Jabeur.

Jabeur and Sara Sorribes Tormo – who shocked 21st seed Elena Rybakina 6-1 3-6 6-2 – will meet for a spot in the quarter-finals.

 

PLISKOVA FALLS TO PEGULA… AGAIN

For the third time this past month, 2019 Miami Open runner-up Pliskova went down 6-1 4-6 6-4 to 29th seed Pegula.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Pegula conquered Pliskova in Doha and Dubai before repeating the feat in Miami on Sunday.

"I played her a lot the last three weeks, three tournaments," Pegula said. "I kind of expected her to play well there. Even when I was up I still felt like she could easily come back just because she plays so aggressive and she serves well."

After reeling off the final four games, Pegula set up a last-16 showdown with 23rd seed Maria Sakkari, who dismantled qualifier Liudmila Samsonova 6-0 6-1.

Second seed Naomi Osaka picked up where she left off at last month's Australian Open, winning her first match since lifting the title in Melbourne.

Osaka earned her place in the Miami Open third round on Friday with a hard-fought straight-sets victory over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady was knocked out in the second round by 58th-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Brady's defeat was the major surprise on Friday, with Sorribes Tormo fighting back from a set down to win.

Top 10 seeds Karolina Pliskova, Bianca Andreescu and Sofia Kenin also progressed, with the latter coming from a set behind to beat Andrea Petkovic.

OSAKA CONTINUES WINNING RUN

Osaka extended her winning streak to 22 matches, although it was not easy against Tomljanovic.

The Japanese got the edge 7-6 (7-3) 6-4, firing down 36 winners, including 13 aces in a match lasting one hour, 38 minutes.

"This is my first match since Australia, so I just really wanted to play well," Osaka said in her on-court post-match interview. "I kind of feel like I'm at home here, because I grew up [near here] for most of my life."

Tomljanovic did not go down without a fight but was let down by 24 unforced errors.

Osaka will next face Serbian qualifier Nina Stojanovic in the third round.

 

BRADY BEATEN AGAIN

World number 14 Brady succumbed to in-form Monterrey Open semi-finalist Sorribes Tormo 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Brady had a dream run to the final at the Australian Open last month but came back to earth with a thud against the Spaniard, who has won 10 of her past 11 matches.

The match lasted two hours, 22 minutes, with Sorribes Tormo finding the edge in the last as Brady's first-serve percentage dropped to 30.8 per cent.

Brady's defeat comes a few weeks after being humbled by Anett Kontaveit in less than an hour in the Qatar Open first round.

MIXED BAG FOR SEEDS

Tenth seed Kiki Bertens, in her third match back from Achilles surgery, was knocked out by Russian qualifier Ludmilla Samsonova 6-2 6-1 inside an hour.

Fourth seed and last year's Australian Open champion Kenin responded after losing the first set to defeat Andrea Petkovic, winning 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 6-3. The match was Kenin's first since appendix surgery.

Sixth seed Pliskova comfortably got past Zheng Saisai 6-2 6-1 and 2019 US Open champion Andreescu triumphed over Tereza Martincova 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

Seeds Elena Rybakina, Kontaveit, Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur and Amanda Anisimova all won, with 20th seed Petra Martic and Sloane Stephens both knocked out.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka sizzled in the scorching Melbourne heat on day three of the Australian Open. 

Williams, aiming once more for a record-equalling 24th singles grand slam, made serene progress from round two on what was the hottest day of the tournament so far. 

It was a similar story for Osaka, who is aiming to become a two-time champion at Melbourne Park, but Simona Halep had to dig deep while Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova were early casualties on Wednesday.


PLAIN SAILING FOR SERENA AND OSAKA

Williams' perfect start to the season extended to 5-0 as she swatted aside Nina Stojanovic 6-3 6-0 to set up a round-three meeting with Anastasia Potapova – the same opponent she overcame in Melbourne in the first round a year ago. 

The seven-time Australian Open champion is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the Russian. 

"It's always a fun, interesting match [against Potapova]. I'm gonna go home, get ready and just do the best," she said.  

"We're all out here to have fun and I'm happy to be out here, and just to be playing in front of crowd again is really cool. So every day is just fun." 

Osaka, the current US Open champion and the winner in Melbourne two years ago, hammered former world number four Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena in the evening session. 

The Japanese star is set to face her friend Ons Jabeur for the first time in an official match in round three. 

"She's really funny," Osaka said of her next opponent. "I don't know if you guys watch any of her interviews. I think she is really funny and nice.  

"I think the match I am going to play against her will be really difficult, but I'm looking forward to it." 


HALEP SURVIVES TOMLJANOVIC TEST

In contrast to Williams and Osaka's comfortable wins, second seed Halep was taken to the brink by home favourite Ajla Tomljanovic, who won the first set and was serving for the match in the third. 

However, 2018 finalist Halep broke back when trailing 5-4 in the decider and battled through with a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory in a match that saw a combined 94 unforced errors (57 for Tomljanovic, 37 for Halep). 

"I was expecting that she would play very hard and very strong. I expected it to be a difficult match, but it was more than I thought. But I'm really happy that I can smile now," Halep said.  

"I was not that positive when I was talking to myself. I didn't talk about the score, I was just blaming myself, that I'm not strong enough to win against her. But in the end mentally I was maybe a bit stronger than her, and I didn't want to give up." 

Last year's losing finalist Garbine Muguruza (14) was too good for Ludmilla Samsonova in a 6-3 6-1 win, while French Open champion Iga Swiatek (15) dispatched Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-4. 

Aryna Sabalenka (7), Marketa Vondrousova (19) and Veronika Kudermetova (32) all made it through, but fellow seed Elena Rybakina (17) was beaten in straight sets by Fiona Ferro.


EARLY EXITS FOR ANDREESCU AND KVITOVA

Andreescu became the latest scalp for veteran Hsieh Su-Wei, who earned a commanding 6-3 6-2 victory and is now 4-3 against top-10 players in the slams since 2017. 

Eighth seed Andreescu won the US Open in 2019 but missed the entirety of last year with a knee injury, while her preparation here was disrupted by spending 14 days in quarantine after her coach tested positive for coronavirus. 

"After my first round, I thought I would feel more exhausted, but I felt amazing. Also, today the weather was a bit tricky. Being in the heart of quarantine I could have had those extra two weeks of like being in the heat and getting used to sweating and all of that," she said. 

Next up for Hsieh is Sara Errani, who defeated Venus Williams 6-1 6-0. The veteran American rolled her ankle towards the end of the first set and, despite needing two medical timeouts, valiantly saw out the match. 

Kvitova was a runner-up to Osaka in 2019 and appeared on course to recovery after dominating the second set against Sorana Cirstea. 

But amid sweltering conditions, the Czech ninth seed went on to lose the decider. 

"It was quite a rollercoaster, for sure," she said. "Unfortunately I couldn't take the chances to win the first set.  

"I think that was really the key of the match. She really had a great day today; she played a good game. I didn't really bring the best tennis today. It's really hurting."

Bianca Andreescu's comeback bid came to a surprise end in the second round of the Australian Open, where the eighth seed was ousted by Hsieh Su-wei.

Andreescu was playing her first tournament since the WTA Finals in Shenzhen at the end of 2019 – a knee injury and fitness issues derailing the Canadian star after her breakthrough at the US Open almost two years ago.

The 20-year-old's stay in Melbourne did not extend beyond round two, however, as Hsieh stunned the three-time WTA Tour champion 6-3 6-2.

Andreescu struggled in Wednesday's first match on Rod Laver Arena – tallying 25 unforced errors in a forgettable one hour, 23-minute display in sunny conditions at Melbourne Park.

The loss to world number 71 Hsieh condemned Andreescu to her worst defeat since falling to Catherine McNally (628) at the 2018 ITF/$25k Lawrence-KA USA.

Taiwanese veteran Hsieh, 35, has now upset eight seeds in her career at grand slams.

Naomi Osaka said she was "really nervous" before facing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but showed no signs of that as she breezed into the second round of the Australian Open.

Osaka looked dominant on day one of the first grand slam of the year as she welcomed being able to play in front of a crowd at Melbourne Park, taking only 68 minutes to wrap up a 6-1 6-2 victory.

The US Open champion has beaten Pavlyuchenkova three times in a row after losing when they first met in 2017 but was wary of facing the Russian on Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka said: "I was really nervous coming into this match. I know that I've played her before, and it was really tough. I just wanted to play well.

"The most recent memory I have of playing her was in the Osaka final [that Osaka won 6-2 6-3 in 2019], so it's always really hard to play someone that good in the first round.

"For me, I feel like it might have also helped in a way because I calmed my nerves because I felt like I couldn't afford to be that nervous. But, yeah, it was a tough match."

Serena Williams and Simona Halep stormed into round two, but the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber crashed out with a 6-0 6-4 defeat to world number 63 Bernarda Pera.

Alison Riske and Wang Qiang were the only other seeds to fall, losing to teenager Anastasia Potapova and qualifier Sara Errani respectively, while Bianca Andreescu made a winning comeback.

 

Williams sisters among major winners to make serene progress

Serena Williams did not look at all troubled by a shoulder problem as she started her latest quest to win a record-equalling 24th major singles title with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Laura Siegemund.

Her older sister, Venus, also advanced in straight sets, beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.

Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion, was too good for Arantxa Rus, winning 6-1 6-3, and Petra Kvitova got past Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.

Kerber will not be claiming a fourth major crown this month after falling to Croatia-born American Pera.

 

Halep planning to oust another Australian

Two-time major winner Halep was a cut above Lizette Cabrera, winning 6-2 6-1 in 59 minutes, and is looking forward to facing another Australia in the second round in the form of Ajla Tomljanovic. 

"I like to be here, so I like to play Australians," Halep quipped.

"I feel good. My body is fit. It's always difficult to play a big hitter. So, I have to be strong on my legs, focus on myself and give my best.

"I expected a tough match because I played against her before and I know how it's gonna be. She's a good opponent, a good player, and I will focus just on myself like I do every time, but I'm ready for a good battle."

Andreescu back in business

Andreescu put her injury woes behind her, battling past Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2 4-6 6-3 in her first match for 15 months.

The Canadian had not played in a grand slam since winning the US Open in 2019 but was back in business on John Cain Arena.

Eighth seed Andreescu said: "After the match, I sat down with my team a little bit, and I'm like, 'Oh, guys, here we go again, those three-setters' and they just started laughing because they obviously knew what they were getting themselves into.

"But those matches are super good for me in my opinion because it really shows that I can scramble when I really need to, or if there's some pressure I can dig my way through it somehow. When my back is against the wall, not only today, but I've noticed throughout my last couple tournaments in 2019, I've been able to pull through with those."

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