Thursday, January 19, 2012

Brisbane champion among seeds to go out in Australian Open 2nd round

Brisbane champion Kaia Kanepi, seeded 25th at the Australian Open, was defeated in straight sets yesterday in the second round by Ekaterina Makarova. In Brisbane, Kanepi knocked out seed after seed to win the trophy, but she was not able to handle Makarova, who is ranked number 56 in the world.

Kanepi wasn't the only seed to be taken out. 15th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was defeated 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 by a more consistent Vania King. After the first set, Pavlyuchenkova had so much trouble with her serve that King was able to take over the match.

In what was probably the most exciting match of the day,  Greta Arn overcame 17th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. Arn's service game was big in every way; she hit 8 aces and double-faulted 12 times. Most of the time, though, her serve worked for her. She down 1-3 in the final set, and she broke Cibulkova when the 17th seed served for the match at 7-6. It was a tense 2-hour and 40-minute contest, and it really wasn't clear who was going to win until the very end. Arn's reward? She gets Serena Williams in the third round.

23rd seed Roberta Vinci was defeated by Zheng Jie, and  29th seed Nadia Petrova, who had some problems with her back, was defeated by Sara Errani. 18th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova squeaked by Sloane Stephens 7-6, 7-5, and 9th seed Marion Bartoli defeated Australia's Jelena Dokic in the night match.

Vera Zvonareva, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams all advanced. Williams won her first set against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, but the second set was different. Zahlavova Strycova got in and made some headway, and Williams began to slow down and move awkwardly. At a later point, Williams fell down, but apparently wasn't harmed by the fall. She won the set 6-4, and the match victory gave her her 500th career match win.

A lot of attention was given to the 500th win, to Williams' upcoming mixed doubles play with Andy Roddick (now in doubt because of Roddick's hamstring injury), and to the fall, which landed Williams on what she called her "good ankle." But nothing was said about the second set lapse. Was Williams in pain? Was it a moment of uncertainty? Zahlavova Strycova is capable of confusing an opponent, but she wasn't doing anything in that particular match that would have caused Williams to lose her momentum.

Five-time Australian Open champion Williams plays Arn next, and--assuming she wins--she will probably then get Zvonareva in the round of 16.

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