MELBOURNE, February 3
Serena Williams sounded a warning for her fellow Australian Open contenders with a sleek 6-1 6-4 victory against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova to reach the quarterfinals of the Yarra Valley Classic here today.
After top two seeds Ash Barty and Sofia Kenin faced steep challenges to keep their preparations on course, Williams put up a contrasting show at Melbourne Park’s Margaret Court Arena in the evening session.
World No. 1 Barty, who won 6-0 4-6 6-3, showed no signs of fatigue from having played a late match on Tuesday and started in top gear against Marie Bouzkova at the Margaret Court Arena before her Czech opponent staged a fightback.
Australian Open champion Kenin, seeded second, appeared headed for an exit against fellow American Jessica Pegula when she fell 0-3 back after losing the first set but the feisty 22-year-old found her range and rallied for a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner and a seven-time Australian Open champion, moved well, looked composed and mixed power with poise against Pironkova, who had won a set off her during last year’s US Open quarterfinals.
Kenin set up a last-eight clash against two-time Major winner Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2.
Danielle Collins ousted third seed Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5) 7-6(3) in a battle of attrition while Nadia Podoroska edged two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 5-7 6-1 7-6(7).
Osaka, Halep into Gippsland last-eight
US Open champion Naomi Osaka extended her winning streak to 13 matches today but only after riding out a stiff challenge from Katie Boulter to beat the Briton 3-6 6-3 6-1 and reach the quarterfinals of the Gippsland Trophy.
Top seed and world No. 2 Simona Halep later had a more routine passage into the last-eight of the Australian Open warm-up with a 6-2 6-4 win over German Laura Siegemund.
French Open champion Iga Swiatek crashed out of the tournament with a 6-4 6-2 loss to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, while British fifth seed Johanna Konta was edged 4-6 6-7(10) 6-7(4) by Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
Italy seal spot in ATP Cup semifinals
Italy sealed a place in the semifinals of the ATP Cup by winning both singles matches against France, while Germany did their chances of progressing no harm by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead over Canada at the Rod Laver Arena.
Victory for Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini in the singles combined with Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Austria ensured Italy would top Group C. — Reuters