Ash Barty beats No. 1 Simona Halep in Romanian’s tour return

Getty Images
0 Comments

SYDNEY — Ashleigh Barty broke Simona Halep’s serve in the final game of the match to beat the No. 1-ranked Halep 6-4, 6-4 in a second-round match Wednesday at the Sydney International.

It was Halep’s first match since October after a lengthy layoff due to a herniated disc in her back. Halep won last year’s French Open and lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open final.

The Australian served five aces, no double-faults and broke Halep three times to reverse two previous losses to Halep last August.

“I finally learned my lesson,” Barty said. “She gave me a belting in Montreal. I learned a little bit more in Cincinnati, but today I knuckled down and really thought about it and really gave myself a chance.

“The biggest thing, I believed that I could I win. We’re both out here on the same court. Just very happy I was able to come out and execute.”

The 27-year-old Halep will be at the Australian Open next week in Melbourne without a coach after parting ways with Australian mentor Darren Cahill, who can longer commit to Halep due to family reasons. Cahill had coached Halep for four years.

In a first-round match, 10th-seeded Elise Mertens beat qualifier Katerina Siniakova 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2. In the second round, Timea Bacsinszky defeated Samantha Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

In men’s play, Alex de Minaur beat American qualifier Reilly Opelka 6-4 7-6 (4) in a match suspended by rain after just one game on Tuesday night to advance to the quarterfinals against fellow Australian Jordan Thompson.

“I think I got lucky today. Reilly’s an incredibly tough opponent,” de Minaur said. “I took care of my chances. I would have loved to get the break in the second. I had a couple of chances, but I did well to focus on my serve and I’m glad things went my way today.”

In other second-round matches, third-seeded Diego Schwartzman beat qualifier Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-3 and Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-1.

Top-ranked Swiatek, Kvitova reach quarters at Agel Open

Getty Images
2 Comments

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Top-ranked Iga Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals of the Agel Open after Ajla Tomljanovic retired with an injury during the second set of their second-round match on Wednesday.

The Polish U.S. Open champion was leading 7-5, 2-2 when her Australian opponent retired due to a left knee injury at the indoor hardcourt event in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.

Swiatek, who also won the French Open in June, will next face American qualifier Catherine McNally or Karolina Muchova.

Home favorite and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova upset second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against this year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina, who rallied to eliminate Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

Czech players also won the last two first-round matches on the schedule.

Muchova knocked out seventh-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 and Barbora Krejcikova ousted American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-2 for her sixth straight victory after she won the Tallinn Open on Sunday for her first WTA title of the year.

Djokovic near flawless to reach second round in Astana

Getty Images
0 Comments

ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Novak Djokovic delivered a near-flawless performance to ease into the second round of the Astana Open with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cristian Garin on Wednesday as he goes for a third straight tournament title.

Djokovic dropped just six points on his serve and won the last five games to seal the win in just 62 minutes.

Djokovic is coming off a victory in Tel Aviv last week and – aside from a match at the Laver Cup – the Wimbledon champion hasn’t lost since the French Open quarterfinals.

“From the start to the end, (it was) a great performance,” Djokovic said. “Playing in a new tournament, different conditions, the first match is never easy. Obviously you are looking to see how you are going to adapt, but I did it perfectly, really, played as well as I can.”

Djokovic will next play Botic van de Zandschulp.

Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz lost in the opening round on Tuesday in his first match since winning the U.S. Open title to capture the No. 1 spot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the quarterfinals by beating 19-year-old Luca Nardi of Italy 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Nardi was playing just his fifth tour-level main-draw match and impressed the third-seeded Greek, who didn’t earn a single break point.

“He’s a player that can play very well in the future,” Tsitsipas said. “There weren’t any holes. I believe today he was able to sustain that level from the beginning to end, and that was extremely impressive.”

Roberto Bautista Agut also reached the quarterfinals as he followed up his first-round upset of Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Pavel Kotov 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Marin Cilic, who lost the Tel Aviv final to Djokovic, had to come from behind to beat Oscar Otte 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round to set up a round-of-16 match against Karen Khachanov.