After watching Victoria Azarenka take out one of the best players in the world, Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4 6-2 in the 2nd round of the 2015 Australian Open, you might ask why I would still wonder if she is back. The reason is quite simple. Her shotmaking is back (love that backhand down the line a la Simona Halep), but part of being fully back to being the player she once was is her level of fitness and consistency. Will she maintain her shot technique and discipline or will it break down unexpectedly…maybe against a player she should beat easily…over the next match or two? And if her technique is sound, can she roll through 7 matches to capture her 3rd Australian Open championship? I can’t wait to see. Because if she can do those things, she goes from being an unseeded player few were talking about a week ago to a top favorite to win it all.
I was very impressed with Petra Kvitova’s 6-2 6-4 win versus Mona Barthel. The scoreline looks like a routine victory for the 2-time Wimbledon champion, but there was one game in the second set that really showed me something from Petra. After a fairly easy first set, Petra found herself in a nearly 15 minute single game serving at 2-3 in the second. The marathon game would go to 9 deuces, with Kvitova having to fight off multiple break points. She did so often with some spectacular running shots that I am not sure she would have hit a year ago. Her fitness is vastly improved. What’s more, as a long time Petra fan, this was exactly the kind of match where she would end up with a head-scratching loss…cruising along, then gets broken out of nowhere and falls apart. That didn’t happen here because she wouldn’t let it happen. I was extremely pleased to see this from her. The only sad part is that next up for her is Madison Keys, a possible future top favorite for me. It’s always a joy and a bummer to see two of my faves play each other. I like watching them play, but unfortunately somebody has to lose.
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1 SERENA WILLIAMS (won 7-5 6-0 vs Vera Zvonareva)
4 PETRA KVITOVA (won 6-2 6-4 vs Mona Barthel)
6 AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (won 6-0 6-1 vs Johanna Larsson)
VICTORIA AZARENKA (won 6-4 6-2 vs 8 Caroline Wozniacki)
11 DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA (won 6-2 6-0 vs Tsvetana Pironkova)
MADISON KEYS (won 2-6 6-1 6-1 vs Casey Dellacqua)