Garbine Muguruza eased into the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Tuesday thanks to a comfortable victory over lucky loser Patricia Maria Tig, though Belinda Bencic was the biggest casualty on a rain-interrupted day.

Spaniard Muguruza was due to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova until the Russian withdrew due to an abdominal issue, giving Tig a reprieve and the chance of an upset.

But Muguruza won all but three games in a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 victory that required little more than an hour on court as the former world number one went to 22-6 for the season.

Conditions were not great as drizzle persisted for much of the match, but Muguruza was grateful to progress after a generally testing day.

"It was a weird day," the 12th seed said afterwards. "I woke up [and the weather was] sunny, had an opponent. Then it turned out I had another opponent and it was raining the whole match. We had a little bit of everything!

"But, Rome, it's such a familiar tournament. I played here so many times, I've had nice matches. I love this clay, the red clay. It's familiar to me. I'm just looking forward to getting as many matches as possible."

Bencic will not be joining her in the next round, as she became the highest seed to be eliminated on the day in a 6-3 6-4 defeat to Kristina Mladenovic.

The two played each other under two weeks ago in the first round of the Madrid Open, with Bencic victorious, but Mladenovic got her revenge as she capitalised on her opponent's seven double faults.

Like Tig, Sloane Stephens was also competing as a lucky loser as she came up against compatriot Madison Keys, though the outcome was no different.

Keys claimed only her second win in six meetings with Stephens but had to come from behind as she eventually clinched it 4-6 6-2 7-5 after two-and-a-half hours on court to set up a clash with 15th seed Iga Swiatek.

Elise Mertens, the 14th seed, was also dumped out of the competition, losing out 4-6 6-2 6-3 to Veronika Kudermetova, whom she had beaten in straight sets in their three WTA Tour contests before this one.

Veteran Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, ranked 665 in the world, awaits top seed Ashleigh Barty after the 33-year-old showed character to fight back and beat Martina Trevisan 0-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6), while Nadia Podoroska set up a second-round clash with Serena Williams after seeing off Laura Siegemund 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

Ash Barty won her first match on clay since reigning supreme at the 2019 French Open as the world number one rolled into the Volvo Car Open round of 16.

Barty – who last featured in a clay-court match en route to Roland Garros glory almost two years ago amid the coronavirus pandemic – made light work of Misaki Doi 6-2 6-1.

Miami Open champion last week, top seed Barty continued where she left off at the WTA 500 event on Wednesday, closing out proceedings in just over an hour in Charleston.

"I had to use it as an opportunity to try and build some comfort," Barty said. "I think having a couple days between Miami and playing this first match was important, to have my body rest, but to also try and prepare to change surfaces. It was a very quick turnaround, but I felt great out there tonight."

Barty – who now boasts a 15-2 win-loss record in 2021 – will next face Shelby Rogers after she outlasted 13th seed Amanda Anisimova 1-6 7-5 6-4.

As for second seed Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion slumped to a shock 4-6 6-3 6-4 defeat against Lauren Davis midweek.

World number four Kenin – runner-up at last year's French Open – eased to the first set but fellow American Davis, ranked 79th in the world, changed tactics to fine effect.

"I was a bit uncomfortable so I just really dug deep and really started to think about how to beat her and I found that heavy deep balls were not her favourite," the 27-year-old Davis said.

"Being on clay, the ball bounces high, pushing girls back, so it's very effective."

Kenin took a medical timeout at 3-0 down in the deciding set but, despite reeling off the next three games, she was unable to see Davis off as her 2021 woes continue.

Davis now heads into another all-American clash with teenage sensation Coco Gauff – who came from 1-3 down in the third to defeat Liudmila Samsonova 4-6 6-1 6-4 in an absorbing two-hour contest.

Belinda Bencic – the fifth seed – crashed out as Paula Badosa claimed the first top-20 win of her career following a 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 success.

Badosa will face Caty McNally in the last 16 after the 19-year-old American beat Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-4.

Seventh seed Elise Mertens was another big name to depart as Alize Cornet prevailed 7-5 6-3, although 15th seed Veronika Kudermetova and 12th seed Ons Jabeur progressed in with the minimum of fuss.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens, meanwhile, topped eighth seed Madison Keys 6-4 6-4.

Seeds were even more vulnerable at the Copa Colsanitas in Bogata, including the top-seeded Saisai Zheng who was dispatched 6-4 6-1 by Stefanie Voegele.

Zheng's compatriot Yafan Wang, seeded eighth, went down 6-3 6-3 to Viktoriya Tomova.

Arantxa Rus and Jasmine Paolini, the third and sixth seeds respectively, lost in three to Spanish duo Nuria Parrizas Diaz and Lara Arruabarrena.

World number one Ash Barty moved through to the last 16 of the Miami Open, where Simona Halep's campaign came to a premature end.

Defending champion and top seed Barty was too good for Jelena Ostapenko in Saturday's showdown between the former French Open winners.

Two-time grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka also moved through to the fourth round of the WTA Premier tournament.

Halep, however, succumbed to a shoulder injury in Miami.

 

CLASH OF PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER ONES

Barty and former world number one Azarenka will go head-to-head for a place in the quarter-finals.

Australian star Barty accounted for Ostapenko 6-3 6-2 as she extended her winning streak at the Miami Open to eight matches.

Barty, who tallied nine winners to 14 unforced errors, rallied from 2-0 down in the second set by reeling off six successive games to advance.

"Today felt like I was a lot sharper and switched on and ready to go from the very first point," Barty said afterwards.

Three-time Miami champion Azarenka trumped Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-2 in the third round.

Azarenka – the 14th seed – fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the opening set to get the better of the three-time major winner.

"She's a very talented player. I always have been a huge fan of her game and the way she plays, the way she handles herself. She has a lot of variety," Azarenka said on facing Barty. "She has pretty much every single shot there is. [It's] going to be a great match."

 

INJURED HALEP PULLS OUT

Two-time grand slam champion Halep withdrew due to a shoulder injury as Anastasija Sevastova benefited from a walkover.

"I'm very sorry to I have to pull out of the singles and doubles at the Miami Open, but my injury doesn't let me play here as expected," said Halep.

"I'm sad that I can't continue, I wanted to come here to give my best and play many matches but unfortunately I can't. 

"Hopefully next year I will come back healthy and better."

Next up for Sevastova is wildcard Ana Konjuh, who stunned 15th seed and reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek 6-4 2-6 6-2.

 

SVITOLINA AND SABALENKA ROLL ON

Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina booked her spot in the round of 16 after overcoming fellow seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova stands in the way of a quarter-final berth – the ninth seed was too good for 17th seed Johanna Konta 6-1 6-2.

Seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, meanwhile, prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 against Veronika Kudermetova.

Belinda Bencic – the 11th seed – was sent packing 4-6 6-4 6-4 by Marketa Vondrousova, who will take on Sabalenka.

Iga Swiatek produced the game that took her to grand slam glory as the French Open champion crushed Belinda Bencic in the Adelaide International final. 

A 6-2 6-2 victory for Swiatek was the perfect way for the Polish 19-year-old to complete a successful week in which she did not drop a set in five matches, losing only 22 games. 

Swiatek achieved her shock Roland Garros triumph in the same way, sweeping through the Paris draw untroubled with a string of straight-sets wins. 

She appears set to climb into the world's top 10 before long, with this week's work enough for her to jump three places to number 15 in the WTA rankings. 

Leading the winners count 22-9 reflected Swiatek's dominance of a match that she closed out in one hour and six minutes. 

Swiatek reached the Australian Open fourth round earlier in February, with her run in Melbourne halted when Simona Halep avenged her French Open defeat to the teenager. 

After sinking Bencic's Adelaide title hopes, Swiatek expressed gratitude to tournament organisers and the Australian government for allowing tennis stars into the country, which has imposed tight restrictions on travel during the pandemic. 

Swiatek said in an on-court speech: "I want to thank everybody who made this whole swing possible. 

"It's been amazing playing here in Australia and I love to play here. Also, the government, thank you for letting us play and thank you for the opportunity."

French Open champion Iga Swiatek raced through to another final as the Polish teenager reached the Adelaide International title match. 

The world number 18 will face Belinda Bencic for the trophy on Saturday after the Swiss player denied Coco Gauff in a gruelling second semi-final. 

Swiatek was too strong for another player from Switzerland earlier in the day, tearing to a 6-3 6-2 win over Jil Teichmann. 

The 19-year-old has yet to drop a set in four matches this week and said: "Basically I'm focusing on everything, like every second of my being on court has a purpose. 

"The most important thing is to have the same attitude because I know I've been doing a great job. Keeping that is going to ensure me that it's just another match." 

She is hopeful of becoming a consistent winner this year, having demonstrated at Roland Garros that she has the game to take on the best. 

Her maiden grand slam victory as a huge underdog was followed by a run to the Australian Open fourth round, where Simona Halep avenged a defeat to Swiatek in Paris. 

In May she will turn 20, with Swiatek looking to mature on court. 

"It's really important for me. Just I feel that it's going to be easier year by year because I'm going to be, like, more grown-up, I'm going to be able to physically and mentally handle tournaments every week," she added, quoted on the WTA website. 

Bencic beat Gauff 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 in two hours and 45 minutes, recovering from a second-set stumble, having had the chance to serve out a straight-sets win. 

Gauff, the American 16-year-old of whom so much is expected, showed resilience to force a second tie-break in the match but was then overwhelmed in the decider.

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff reached the semi-finals of the Adelaide International with contrasting victories in Thursday's play.  

Reigning French Open champion Swiatek is through to the last four of a tournament for the first time since her success at Roland Garros, having spent just over an hour on court against Danielle Collins.  

Swiatek had taken the opening set and was already 3-0 in up in the second when Collins was forced to retire due to a lower back issue.  

The fifth seed will next take on Jil Teichmann, who failed to take any of the five match points that came her way during a dramatic second set tie-break with Anastasija Sevastova, though she eventually prevailed in the decider.  

Teichmann staved off two opportunities for her opponent when serving at 4-5 in the third as she claimed three games in a row to triumph, a 6-4 6-7 (10-8) 7-5 victory coming after two hours and 57 minutes.

In the other half of the draw, Gauff had to fight hard to seal her progress, having been down a set and 4-2 to Shelby Rogers.   

The 16-year-old, who came through qualifying, rallied to triumph 2-6 6-4 6-4 and reach the semis at a WTA 500 event for the first time.  

"I didn't realise how much a role experience plays until I started playing some players who are a lot older than me and they know what to do," Gauff said, per the WTA Tour's website.   

"Even when it comes to the little mind games and all that, they know what to do in those moments. So I'm just learning and picking up a few tricks and as I go."  

Gauff, who has won all three of her matches in the main draw via a deciding set, will go up against second seed Belinda Bencic, the Swiss having swept aside Storm Sanders in straight sets. 

Ash Barty crashed out of the Adelaide International at her first hurdle after going down in straight sets to Danielle Collins.

It took only 65 minutes for American Collins to defeat the defending champion and world number one in a 6-3 6-4 triumph.

Barty, who had a bye in the first round, did have opportunities, breaking in the first game of the match and building a 4-1 lead in the second set.

But on both occasions Collins stormed back, claiming her first win in four attempts against home favourite Barty, who had beaten her in the semi-finals of last year's tournament.

Coco Gauff continued her fine run to reach a first WTA quarter-final since August 2020 with an impressive comeback win over sixth seed Petra Martic.

The American triumphed 5-7 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes to book a clash with compatriot Shelby Rogers at the WTA 500 event.

Gauff did not relinquish serve once after losing the first set and did not even offer up a break-point chance in the decider, which she sealed with a pivotal early break secured with a passing winner.

"I go into every tournament thinking that I can win," said the 16-year-old.

"Obviously that's impossible, to have a perfect record, but I go into every tournament believing that I can win. 

"I try not to think far ahead in the match, at least I just try to focus on my next match, just because you have to get through that before you can get to the finals, and just take it one match at a time."

Second seed Belinda Bencic will face Storm Sanders in the quarter-finals after a 6-1 6-3 win over Misaki Doi.

In a match where she was not quite as dominant as the scoreline suggests, Bencic had to fend off 12 break points but was successful in saving 10 of them.

Number four seed Elise Mertens withdrew before her match with a shoulder injury, so Anastasija Sevastova beat lucky loser Christina McHale to set up a last-eight tie with Jil Teichmann.

Ash Barty may have her focus on winning the Australian Open right now but suggested a career change could be on the cards in the future.  

The world number one made sure she will still be competing during the second week of the tournament in Melbourne by beating Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets.  

But, having played international cricket for Australia before switching to tennis, could the multi-talented Barty be considering trying another sport?  

Elsewhere in Saturday's action, Karolina Pliskova lost her cool – and also a couple of rackets – as she slipped to defeat against the impressive Karolina Muchova in an empty Rod Laver Arena, with fans not able to be present due to a five-day lockdown in the state of Victoria.

Elina Svitolina had no such problems in her third-round match, while Elise Mertens was victorious in just over an hour against Belinda Bencic. Jennifer Brady ended Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan's run in the first grand slam of the year.


AUSSIE RULES, OK? 

After winning 6-2 6-4 without ever needing to be at her peak, Barty was cheekily asked by former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua – now working in the media – whether she may be set to switch paths again, once her tennis career has come to an end.  

Australian rules football was the answer – but Dellacqua maybe got more than she bargained for from her former playing partner during the on-court interview. 

"I thought it was our deal, we're going to AFLW. It's ABCD [the nickname for the pairing from their doubles career]. We come as a package, and I know we will be going to the [Richmond] Tigers that is for sure," Barty said. "You can't go to Carlton. You have to come to the 'Tiges' with me."

Dellacqua replied: "I need to get out there and start practicing some kicking, but you are good. I would love to do that one day." 

For Barty, though, the next challenge facing her is Shelby Rogers, who knocked out 21st seed Anett Kontaveit during the evening session.  


MAKING A RACKET 

A disgruntled Pliskova was not impressed when punished for smashing up a racket during her match with compatriot Muchova. 

Having received a warning when throwing a racket to the floor during the course of the final game in the opening set, the sixth seed then vented her frustration again on another while in the players' tunnel.  

An official witnessed the incident and reported it to chair umpire Alison Hughes, who punished the Czech with a point penalty before she began serving to open the second set.  

"It's off court, I'm allowed to do what I want," Pliskova insisted when querying the decision to the official. She would go on to hold before recording two successive breaks, yet somehow failed to force a decider.  

Muchova rallied from 5-0 down in sensational fashion, winning seven games on the spin to triumph 7-5 7-5 to make it through to the last 16.


CONTRASTING PROGRESS FOR SEEDS

Svitolina has still yet to drop a set in the tournament after overcoming 26th seed Yulia Putintseva by a 6-4 6-0 scoreline.  

The fifth seed was twice down a break in the first set but, after eventually coming out on top to take a 1-0 lead, breezed through the second in a hurry.  

"She has a very different game style from what I played my last two rounds, so it wasn't easy at the beginning to adjust," Svitolina said. "As soon as I was feeling better, I just stepped my game, and it was quite a comfortable win after." 

Next up will be Jessica Pegula, who is through to the fourth round at a slam for the first time in her career after thrashing Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-1.  

There was also success for another American in the main draw, Brady defeating Juvan in straight sets. Her reward is a clash with Donna Vekic, the 28th seed having to save a match point before eventually seeing off Kaia Kanepi 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 after two hours and 38 minutes on court. 

Sofia Kenin's title defence came to a shock end in the second round of the Australian Open, where world number one Ash Barty advanced amid injury concerns.

Kenin was looking to become the first woman to defend her crown at Melbourne Park since Victoria Azarenka in 2013, instead, she was a high-profile casualty in warm conditions on Thursday.

Barty, who lost to Kenin in last year's semi-finals in Melbourne, stayed alive with a straight-sets win over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova also progressed beyond the second round as fifth seed Elina Svitolina blitzed American sensation Coco Gauff.

 

KENIN OUSTED IN BOILOVER

The American star arrived at the year's first grand slam with high expectations and looking to become the first woman to go back-to-back at a major since Serena Williams in 2016.

But fourth seed Kenin fell to experienced Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-2, having tallied 10 winners and 22 unforced errors in windy conditions in Melbourne - the scene of her breakthrough slam more than 12 months ago.

It was Kenin's first defeat to a player ranked outside the top 50 since going down to then-number 54 Iga Swiatek in the 2020 French Open final.

Asked why she was nervous pre-match, Kenin told reporters: "It's like the outside pressure. I felt really nervous. I haven't felt my game for, I don't know how long, but I haven't really felt my game so well, even in my first round. 

"I played well, but still haven't felt 100 per cent game-wise. It's obviously tough."

 

STRAPPED THIGH? NO WORRIES FOR BARTY​

Barty's left thigh was heavily strapped amid concerns but the 2019 French Open champion still booked her spot in the third round with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) win over countrywoman Gavrilova.

The first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne since 1984, following last year's run, Barty gave up a 5-2 lead in the second set before saving two set points in the tie-break.

Reflecting on Kenin's surprise exit, Barty talked up the standard of the WTA Tour.

"There are no easy matches," said Barty, who next meets 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova for a spot in the round of 16. "There are no easy matches in any tour event, any slam, anything. I think every time you walk on the court, you have to try and be able to bring your best tennis to be able to compete with everyone. 

"That's just the level that there is now on the women's side. That's something really exciting about women's tennis now, is that every single match, it's a fair match. You go out there, you play hard, you try to do the best that you can."

 

PLISKOVA AVENGES LOSS, SVITOLINA TOO GOOD FOR GAUFF

Beaten by Danielle Collins in the third round of the Yarra Valley Classic just eight days ago, sixth seed Pliskova got the better of the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist this time around.

Pliskova - also a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago - defeated Collins 7-5 6-2 and next plays 25th seed Karolina Muchova.

"I just played better in some moments, which I didn't last week. Then she was not playing that well as she did last week," Czech star Pliskova said. "I knew if I at least maintain little bit, just play at least similar as I was playing last week, I knew it's going to be difficult for her to repeat what she played last week. I think she really played great."

Owning a 6-1 record in the second round at Melbourne Park - falling only at this stage in 2016 - Svitolina produced a mature performance to conquer 16-year-old star Gauff 6-4 6-3 on centre court as 26th seed Yulia Putintseva awaits. 

Elsewhere, seeds Belinda Bencic, Elise Mertens, Anett Kontaveit, Jennifer Brady and Donna Vekic moved through.

A "calmer" Garbine Muguruza made a fine start at the Australian Open, while defending champion Sofia Kenin was left annoyed despite her victory.

A finalist at the Yarra Valley Classic last week, Muguruza's good form in Melbourne continued with a rampant 6-4 6-0 victory over Margarita Gasparyan in the first round on Tuesday.

Muguruza was runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, with the two-time grand slam winner looking for her first major success since 2017.

The Spanish star, who will face Ludmilla Samsonova in the second round, said she was reaping the benefits of a changed approach.

"I was for sure working very hard, and frustrated that the results weren't there for quite a few months. Sometimes you work hard, you want it so much, that doesn't help you," Muguruza said.

"It's hard to explain, but I felt like for a moment I was working hard, I was putting all the effort out there. The time that I had to go and compete, I wanted it too much. I was getting frustrated too early. At the end I couldn't let the racquet talk.

"I feel like now, after that experience, I managed to stay a little bit calmer and to just go and compete, probably have less expectations. I'm always, like, there and always so pumped. I'm just knowing myself a little bit better now, finding ways to compete and not let that energy and that desire, too much desire, get in the way probably."

It was a relatively good day for the top women's seeds, with Kenin – who conquered Muguruza in last year's final – winning through.

Ash Barty, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic also advanced, while Victoria Azarenka's poor recent record in Melbourne continued.

KENIN ANNOYED DESPITE WIN

Kenin started her title defence with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Australian Maddison Inglis.

But while the American fourth seed mixed 23 winners with 27 unforced errors, Kenin said she felt her nerves as she defends a major crown for the first time.

"I was obviously quite annoyed the whole match. I felt like the first two points I started off well, then wasn't able to close out the first game. Obviously nerves happen," she said.

"She obviously played really well. She's a tricky opponent, tricky player. Yeah, it was quite hard on myself today, quite annoyed, as you said."

Kenin's next clash is a tough encounter against Kaia Kanepi, who brushed past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-1.

BARTY, SVITOLINA AND PLISKOVA AMONG WINNERS

Barty made a spectacular start with a 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Danka Kovinic.

The world number one won the first 16 points and ended up losing just 10 for the match in an impressive start.

A two-time quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, Svitolina was tested but overcame Marie Bouzkova 6-3 7-6 (7-5) on Rod Laver Arena.

A huge challenge awaits Svitolina, who will next face Coco Gauff after the 16-year-old American beat Jil Teichmann 6-3 6-2.

Czech sixth seed Pliskova made quick work of Jasmine Paolini, wrapping up a 6-0 6-2 victory in just 47 minutes.

Bencic and Anett Kontaveit were among the other seeded winners.

NO EXCUSES FOR AZARENKA

A two-time Australian Open champion, Azarenka suffered a surprise 7-5 6-4 loss to Jessica Pegula in the first round.

The Belarusian's last win at the event came in 2016, having made first-round exits in 2019 and 2021 and missed the tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

Azarenka was among the players forced to quarantine ahead of the major and while she said it played a part in her exit, she offered no excuses.

"Of course, it has impacted. Somebody who's coming out of hard quarantine and maybe has been able to adjust well, they'll go, 'Oh, maybe it hasn't impacted'. Somebody who lost early will say, 'Yeah, of course, it's impacted'. It would be hard to say," she said.

"Was that the best preparation for me? No. But try to sit here and find an excuse because of quarantine and this is just something that, as I said, it is what it is.

"I am disappointed that I wasn't able to perform that I knew I could. That's a bit hard to accept today because I knew I can play better, a lot better. At the same time I feel that I've tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately that hasn't worked out for me."

Greek 20th seed Maria Sakkari also bowed out after a loss to Kristina Mladenovic, while British 13th seed Johanna Konta retired injured while leading Kaja Juvan 6-4 0-2.

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