Casey Dellacqua's straight-set win over Zheng Jie yesterday at the Australian Open puts her into the round of 16, and makes her the last Australian in the draw. Her countrywoman, Sam Stosur, went out in three sets to Ana Ivanovic. Stosur has appeared better able to handle the pressure at this Australian Open, and she played well in the third round. Ivanovic, however, played even better.
That Li Na. She likes to live on the edge, and she was almost pushed over it yesterday by Lucie Safarova. Safarova took an easy 6-1 first set off of the 4th seed, who actually began the match while in Na Na Land. The left-handed Czech served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but was easily broken, as one might expect: When she's about to go down in flames, Li can usually create some heat of her own.
Safarova got a match point on Li's next serve and went for a down-the-line shot that was the right choice, but that sailed long. Commentators are making a big deal about how close Safarova came to winnning--that the ball just went that tiny bit of distance out. Actually, it went rather definitively out, but nevertheless, the miss must have been a heart-breaker for Safarova. She was never to get another chance; Li won the second set 7-6 and she won the third set 6-3. Once the second set tiebreak began, Li had all the momentum she needed.
Li made 50 unforced errors in the match. She will have to clean up her game quite a bit for her next match, which she'll play against Ekaterina Makarova. The Russian player beat Monica Niculescu in straight sets.
Top seed Serena Williams defeated Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets, but her serve was broken for the first time in the tournament. Williams' victory was her 61st at the Melbourne event--a WTA record.
Eugenie Bouchard advanced, as did Angelique Kerber and Flavia Pennetta. And leave it to Pennetta to be the last Fighting Italian left standing. The comeback continues.
Pennetta's good fortune continued in doubles. She and partner Kristina Mladenovic (who tends to bring good fortune in doubles, anyway) won their first round match in straight sets. They were to have played Serena and Venus Williams, but the Williams sisters withdrew because Venus has a leg injury.
The big news in doubles, however, was the upset of 2nd seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai by Shahar Peer and Silvia Soler-Espinosa. Who saw that coming? Peer and Soler-Espinosa won 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
There was intense heat and there was rain. The television commentators can't stop talking about a doctor in Australia who declared that the overwhelming heat was not a health factor for tennis players. I don't blame them. Every once in a while, someone says something so ridiculous that it boggles the mind.