Australian Open: Garbine Muguruza advances to 2nd round, Petra Kvitova crashes out
Garbine Muguruza defeated Jessika Ponchet while Petra Kvitova was stunned by Andrea Petkovic at the Australian Open tennis tournament on Tuesday.tennis Updated: Jan 16, 2018 17:00 IST
Garbine Muguruza wore heavy strapping on her injured right thigh as she laboured to a 6-4, 6-3 victory against wildcard Jessika Ponchet in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.
The world number three took an hour and 24 minutes to quell the virtually unknown 21-year-old French world number 256.
Muguruza said before her match she was hoping to be “pain-free” to begin her Australian Open campaign, but her mobility was hampered and she looked anything but fully fit against Ponchet.
A quarter-finalist in Melbourne last year, Spain’s Muguruza dropped her first service game but from there battled back to take the first set in 43 minutes.
“It wasn’t easy. I didn’t know anything about her,” said Muguruza of her opponent who was making her first main draw appearance in a WTA event, let alone a Grand Slam.
“She’s super talented. Serves and volleys, so I had to stay very concentrated.”
The Wimbledon champion had a problematic start to the year, pulling out of the Sydney International to protect her right thigh.
Only a week earlier she had retired from the Brisbane International with severe cramps.
Her bad luck almost continued when she clutched her left knee as her shoe stuck awkwardly in the court at 2-2, 30-30 in the second set, bringing gasps from the Margaret Court Arena crowd.
But she recovered to outlast Ponchet in a game that went to a marathon six deuces and take a break of serve and then broke again to seal the win.
Muguruza, seeded three, next faces Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei who prevailed in a see-saw match against China’s Zhu Lin 0-6, 6-0, 8-6.
The two-time Grand Slam winner is in the same half of the draw as world number one Simona Halep and is projected to face another Frenchwoman, number eight seed Caroline Garcia, in the quarters.
Kvitova crashes out
Twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova’s return to the Australian Open a year after being attacked by an intruder at her home ended in disappointment with a marathon 6-3 4-6 10-8 first-round loss to German Andrea Petkovic on Tuesday.
A former quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, Kvitova missed last year’s event as she recovered from surgery to her left hand which was injured by a knife-wielding assailant weeks before the tournament.
Kvitova showed she was back to a level approaching her dominant best with a last-eight appearance at the U.S. Open, but her clash with former top-10 player Petkovic ended in heartbreak after she double-faulted on match point when serving at 5-4 in the third set on Show Court Two.
Petkovic saved another match point with a forehand winner to level at 5-5 and fought back from another break down.
Serving to stay in the contest, 27th seed Kvitova suffered an attack of nerves, missing a straightforward volley before surrendering the match with her 10th double-fault and sixth of the set.
The crowd groaned in disappointment, while Petkovic roared in triumph and Czech Kvitova walked off to warm applause in the twilight.
“I just thought about not thinking and it worked,” Petkovic said of holding on during the nervous finish.