Australian Open 2022: Sabalenka surges into week two after another gritty comeback win on Day 6

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus celebrates winning match point in her third round singles match against Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic during day...

Despite questions over her patchy form and serving issues, Aryna Sabalenka [2] once again recovered from a precarious situation to ultimately prove too much vs. 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova [31] in the early hours on Saturday. Post-match, she joked about only serving ten double-faults here, an improvement from a rough 19 from her R2 victory over China’s Xinyu Wang. Up next? Kaia Kanepi, entering uncharted territory in Melbourne…

serving issues aside, Sabalenka shows persistence pays

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action during her third round singles match against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic at the 2022 Australian...
Sabalenka hit 36 winners and won 79% of points behind her first serve (41/52) vs. Vondrousova, ultimately overpowering her in the decider

Sabalenka [2] bt. Vondrousova 4-6, 6-3, 6-1

After successive semi-final finishes at Wimbledon and last year’s US Open, the world no. 2 has booked her place into the second week at a third consecutive Major tournament for the first time in a seven-year pro career to date – but knows she can’t rest on her laurels, and rightly so.

For the third consecutive time already this tournament, she recovered from a set down to emerge victorious. But as the tests get stiffer and the margin for error gets smaller, the Belarusian doesn’t need to be told that she cannot afford such sloppy starts if she wants another deep run.

“I had some trouble. I don’t expect in the next match [to have] a great serve, just keep working and hoping it’s a little bit better with every match. I just want to focus game-by-game, push myself and see how far I can go.”

  • Sabalenka’s on-court assessment and not looking too far ahead

This time last year, she was KO’d in the fourth round by Serena Williams in a memorable three-set clash that could’ve gone either way up until the very last stages – 6-4 in the decider.

Kanepi beat three-time Major winner Angelique Kerber [16] 6-4, 6-3 in R1 and has a habit of knocking out top players at Slams, so she won’t exactly be afraid of what’s coming her way next.

Especially when she got the better of Sabalenka (6-1, 2-6, 6-1) at last year’s Gippsland Trophy, one of the warm-up events before the 2021 Australian Open. We’ll have to wait and see…

australian open Results elsewhere on Day 6

Women’s third-round matches

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi reacts after winning against Australia's Maddison Inglis during their women's singles match on day six of the Australian Open...
If she can start fast, Kanepi will fancy her chances of another top-10 upset in R4

Sabalenka’s doubles partner Elise Mertens [19] – who she won last year’s tournament with in Melbourne – dropped just four games against China’s Zhang Shuai (6-2, 6-2).¬†Danielle Collins [27] bt. Belinda Bencic’s conqueror Clara Tauson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in arguably the match of the day.

Kaia Kanepi is making new career strides this fortnight, after similarly recovering from a set down to beat Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis. Sorana Cirstea had to fend off some spirited resistance, beating Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [10] in three sets (6-3, 2-6, 6-2).

Alize Cornet‘s run continues, backing up her Muguruza masterpiece with a comeback win against Tamara Zidansek [29] 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. The scoreline doesn’t always tell the full story, but the consistent Iga Swiatek had to work hard for her 6-2, 6-3 victory over Daria Kasatkina [25].

For all the questions over her fitness and motivation atop the sport, Simona Halep convincingly downed Emma Raducanu’s conqueror Danka Kovinic – dropping just three games (6-2, 6-1).

Men’s third-round results

Taylor Fritz of United States celebrates after winning his third round singles match against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain during day six of the...
Believe it: Fritz celebrates his five-set win, ending a 0-7 third-round streak at Slam tournaments

2021 Roland Garros runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas [4] was pushed but eventually won in four sets against France’s Benoit Paire 6-3, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4. Alex de Minaur remains the hosts’ final ATP hope, after a straight-sets victory (6-4, 6-4, 6-2) over Spain’s experienced veteran Pablo Andujar.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev got the job done in three against a dangerous Dutchman in the form of Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Felix Auger-Aliassime [9] was tested at times but ultimately came through comfortably vs. Britain’s Dan Evans [24] 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.

At long last, Taylor Fritz [20] ended his third-round Major hoodoo with a five-set win to overcome Spanish litmus test Robert Bautista Agut 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Italian rising star Jannik Sinner [11] ended Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel’s run in four sets (6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1).

After enduring some inconsistent seasons, there’s still life in the old dog yet as 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic [27] stunned Russia’s Andrey Rublev [5] 7-5, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.

Picture source: Getty Images

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