Melbourne: Title contenders Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina survived big scares at the Australian Open on Wednesday, as a new teen star was born at the first major of the year.
World No. 2 Wozniacki produced a great escape against little-known Croat Jana Fett, saving two match points and rallying from 5-1 down in an epic third set to keep her dream of a first Grand Slam title alive.
She looked out for the count, and was struggling afterwards to work out how she survived 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 against a player ranked 119.
“That was crazy, I don’t how I got back the in the match, She really took her shots, she had nothing to lose,” said Wozniacki, adding that “experience was crucial”.
Fourth seed Svitolina also came from a set down to overcome spirited Czech Katerina Siniakova 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. The Ukrainian is now on a seven-match win streak after winning the lead-up Brisbane International.
She picked up five WTA Tour titles last year, more than any other woman, making her a serious Grand Slam contender.
Her next task is tackling 15-year-old sensation Marta Kostyuk, who became the youngest woman to reach the third round since Martina Hingis got to the quarter-finals in 1996.
Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a quarter-finalist last year, became the latest seed to slump out in the women’s draw, which has been shorn of leading names over the first two rounds. Seeded 15, she lost to Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko.
Venus Williams’ conqueror Belinda Bencic also ran out of steam, having no answers against Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum, slumping out 6-1, 6-3.
Julia Goerges’ 15-match unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt as she lost in straight sets to Alize Cornet in the second round action.
The 42nd-ranked Frenchwoman won 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes on Margaret Court Arena and will face either Australia’s Daria Gavrilova or Elise Mertens next.
“She had so many wins in a row and I’m just happy to break the spell,” said an ecstatic Cornet, who dominated the number 12 seed.
The in-form Goerges had won three hard-court events in a row — Moscow and Zhuhai in 2017 and Auckland to start this year — and was fancied to go deep into the latter stages in Melbourne Park.
The German instead joined the big-name graveyard in the bottom half of the draw that has already claimed eight seeds including Venus Williams (5), CoCo Vandeweghe (10), US Open champion Sloane Stephens (13) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (15).
“I was not favourite today,” admitted Cornet. “I just played my heart out.”
“I dream step by step,” she said when asked if she could go further after two straight sets wins. “For sure, many beautiful things are coming.”
Second round: Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP x10) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2, 3-0 ret; Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 7-5, 6-1, 6-3; Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-1, 6-3, 6-4; Gilles Muller (LUX x23) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 3-6, 6-2; Kyle Edmund (GBR) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2, 6-2, 6-4; Marin Cilic (CRO x6) bt Joao Sousa (POR) 6-1, 7-5, 6-2; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x15) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5; Damir Dzumhur (BIH x28) bt John Millman (AUS) 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1; Ryan Harrison (USA) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU x31) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4; Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (3/7), 7-5, 4-6, 12-10; Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4); Diego Schwartzman (ARG x24) bt Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
Second round: Denisa Allertova (CZE) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5); Marta Kostyuk (UKR) bt Olivia Rogowska (AUS) 6-3, 7-5; Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x15) 6-2, 6-3; Elina Svitolina (UKR x4) bt Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; Luksika Kumkhum (THA) bt Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-1, 6-3; Petra Martic (CRO) bt Irina Begu (ROM) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3); Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x19) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-4, 0-6, 6-2; Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x2) bt Jana Fett (CRO) 3-6, 6-2, 7-5; Magda Linette (POL) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS x22) 7-6 (7/4), 6-2; Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x7) bt Duan Yingying (CHN) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; Kaia Kanepi (EST) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-4, 6-3; Kiki Bertens (NED x30) bt Nicole Gibbs (USA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-0; Anett Kontaveit (EST x32) bt Mona Barthel (GER) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.