ZHANG Shuai sure isn’t playing like somebody who was 0 for her career in Major singles play coming into the 2016 Australian Open. With her upset of 2nd seed Simona Halep and now following it up with a 6-3 6-3 win over 2016 Hobart International champion Alize Cornet, Shuai is showing the talent that once lifted her to the top 30 in the world. She’s 5’11” with power off the ground. This might not be a fluke. She might really have the game to be this good. Cornet didn’t help herself with 6 double faults and a 7 to 36 winners to unforced errors tally. Nevertheless, Zhang Shuai is lacing some solid winners out there. It only gets tougher moving forward. But whatever happens next, the young Chinese talent has already proven she belongs out there with the elite players of the world.
Meanwhile, American Madison Keys…the next big thing for a lot of us hardcore tennis fans…rebounded from losing the first set to come back and beat the dangerous Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3. Maddie had her chances in the first set and could have made this an easier match. However, once she had it working, it was easy to see why people are so excited by her potential. Even when she isn’t hitting aces with her serve, it is so tough it continually puts the returner in weak positions. It’s really a matter of whether Keys will capitalize on the many weak returns she gets off her serves. When she does, her game is frighteningly good. Next up is a similar player in former world #1 Ana Ivanovic. When Ana has it all working, her game is also beautiful to behold. This is as marquee a third round match as there is in the women’s singles draw. And it’s a tough one to pick because both players can be inconsistent at times. Whomever can sustain their best play with the fewest rough patches is likely to be the victor.
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15 MADISON KEYS d. Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3
ZHANG SHUAI d. Alize Cornet, 6-3 6-3