Iga Swiatek is growing in confidence by the day after she blew Cristina Bucsa to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The world number one ruthlessly dispatched the Spanish qualifier 6-0 6-1 in just 55 minutes on Margaret Court Arena on Friday.

Swiatek won the French Open for a second time last year before claiming her first US Open title and the 21-year-old is the favourite to be crowned champion at Melbourne Park.

Reflecting on her progress through the draw so far, the Pole believes she is making great strides in her quest for a fourth grand slam triumph.

"I feel I'm more and more confident since day one here," she said. "I feel like I've done so much work to feel more confident, more relaxed on court.

"I'm pretty happy I did it because it's just a little bit easier. Whe you actually play those matches, you can feel the rhythm a little bit more.

"I don't feel like the tournament is going to start now, because first rounds are always challenging.

"I'm trying to treat every match separately. I always try to have the same mindset. I can just say that I feel more confident because I'm played a couple of matches here."

Swiatek will do battle with Elena Rybakina in the fourth round and will ensure she does her homework before facing the Wimbledon champion.

"Tactically, I'm not prepared yet. We played an exhibition in Dubai, [but] it's hard kind of to take a lot from that match," she said.

"I'm pretty sure my coach is going to be ready to give me some tips. We'll see [but] I'm not really thinking about that today."

Seventh seed Coco Gauff cruised safely into the Australian Open fourth round with a straight-sets victory over compatriot Bernarda Pera on Friday.

Gauff, 18, triumphed 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 35 minutes in a competitive contest where Pera, 10 years the teenager's senior, put up a fight with her powerful left-sided forehand a feature in their first-ever meeting.

But Gauff made fewer unforced errors and produced seven aces to help her clinch a fourth-round meeting with 17th seed Jelena Ostapenko.

"Today was a tough match," Gauff said during his on-court post-match interview. "Bernarda hit the ball really hard. I was really just trying to hang in there and take the ground when I could.

"Last season she had a long match streak so I knew she'd be a tough player to beat. But I'm happy to be through to the second week."

The 2022 French Open finalist broke Pera in the fourth game and secured the opening frame inside 48 minutes.

Gauff went two breaks up in the second set, leading 4-1, but Pera offered some resistance with a break back on a double fault from the teenager. But Gauff responded to progress, converting her fourth match point.

Data Slam: Gauff maintains hot start to 2023

Gauff, who knocked off 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, continued her perfect start to the calendar year, having triumphed at the Auckland Open earlier this month. Gauff won five matches in Auckland, including the final 6-1 6-1 over Rebeka Masarova.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Pera – 1/7
Gauff – 7/3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Pera – 24/40
Gauff – 23/29

BREAK POINTS WON

Pera – 1/5
Gauff – 4/16

Two-time grand slam runner-up Ons Jabeur says it is "time to recover and get healthier" after her shock second-round elimination from the Australian Open on Thursday.

The Tunisian second seed committed 50 unforced errors as she was bundled out of the opening major of the 2023 season, losing 6-1 5-7 6-1 loss to Marketa Vondrousova.

The defeat comes after the 28-year-old's outstanding 2022 season where she reached the finals of both the Wimbledon Championships and the US Open.

Cameras spotted Jabeur dropping to her knees in apparent despair in the halls of Rod Laver Arena after leaving the court following her loss to Vondrousova.

The Tunisian skipped the mandatory post-match press conference, but opened up on her emotion and condition on Instagram on Friday.

"Despite the health issues, I will keep fighting and come back stronger and stronger," Jabeur posted on Instagram. "Time to recover and get healthier."

Ons Jabeur became the latest big-name casualty at the Australian Open when she suffered a second-round defeat to Marketa Vondrousova.

Jabeur has been hampered by knee and back injuries at the start of the season and the second seed suffered more pain on Rod Laver Arena, where the excellent Vondrousova sealed a 6-1 5-7 6-1 win in the early hours of Friday morning in Melbourne.

Vondrousova has been troubled by multiple wrist injuries since she was a runner-up at the French Open in 2019, but appears to have put those issues behind her.

The Czech left-hander dominated the first and final sets after Jabeur showed her fighting spirit in the second to force a decider at Melbourne Park.

A runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, tenacious Tunisian Jabeur appeared to be in some pain and struggling for breath during a match in which she made 50 unforced errors.

The world number two struck 27 winners to her opponent's 17, but followed the likes of Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Emma Raducanu in making early exits when she overcooked a forehand.

Vondrousova, ranked 78th after an injury-hit 2022 season in which missed three of the four grand slams, will face compatriot Linda Fruhvirtova in round three.

 

Aryna Sabalenka was stuck in the biggest crisis of her tennis career 12 months ago, but the Belarusian big-hitter has found light at the end of a dark tunnel.

In a second-round win over Wang Xinyu at the 2022 Australian Open, Sabalenka served 19 double faults, and it was remarkable that she still pulled off the victory.

But it was no blip. In four matches, stretching from the 2021 WTA Finals to two tournaments in Adelaide at the beginning of the 2022 season, Sabalenka served a total of 74 double faults.

She considered it a success in round three at the Australian Open when she served 10 double faults against Marketa Vondrousova, such was the extent of her problem.

"I think it's more mental," Sabalenka said at the time, "because I put a lot of pressure on myself about my serve, and the last matches I was trying to control everything on my serve; my legs, my arm, the ball toss. And it was overthinking."

A year on, and Sabalenka is looking a different player, one that perhaps might finally be ready to win a singles grand slam.

That breakthrough might come this fortnight, with Sabalenka in scintillating form on Thursday as she beat Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

And here's the thing: she served three aces and not one double fault.

The yips have been cured.

"I worked a lot on my serve," said the 24-year-old after the Rogers match. "Like, really a lot. You can't even imagine how much I worked. I'm just super happy right now that everything is working.

"Oh, my God, I did almost everything to try to fix my serve. The whole year we were trying different things mentally, mental stuff, technique, technical, trying to breathe differently.

"I tried a lot. I watched a lot of different videos, from when I had no problems, when I had problems, trying to understand what is different."

Sabalenka had three double faults in her first-round win over Tereza Martincova, but three is fine, normal even. Zero in round two is something special.

The fifth seed will tackle Belgium's Elise Mertens on Saturday for a place in the last 16, knowing she managed to make it through to round four last year with a malfunctioning game.

The sky is the limit for Sabalenka if the serve is reliable. A three-time slam semi-finalist, her all-round numbers against Rogers were good, with 32 winners against 18 unforced errors a healthy ratio.

She reached the title match at the WTA Finals in November, a big moment at the end of a challenging year. Now a bigger goal is in her sights.

Emma Raducanu hopes to face Coco Gauff again with a little more practice under her belt.

Raducanu lost 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to the 18-year-old American on Wednesday, as her Australian Open hopes were dashed.

The 2021 US Open champion failed to take two set points to restore parity at Rod Laver Arena, and ultimately paid the price when Gauff won the tie-break.

Raducanu suffered an ankle injury while in action at the Auckland Open earlier in January, and battled through the pain barrier to play in Melbourne.

"What I had to [do] to be in the draw is a massive effort and achievement," Raducanu said.

"I would say all the chips were against us, and the chances of me playing this tournament were very, very low.

"So I had extremely limited practice time, I think I can say that now I'm not competing anymore.

"It was obviously going to be a push to get me on the court. I think 13 days ago if you would have said 'Hey, you're going to be in the draw and win a round', it would have been a massive effort for sure.

"Saying that, I still think I didn't necessarily play my best [against Gauff]. Although the second set I had chances, I felt like I could have done better myself. But props to her. She's a great, great opponent and great athlete."

It was the first meeting between Raducanu and Gauff, who is ranked 70 places higher than the 20-year-old by the WTA.

Raducanu has slipped down to 77 in the world rankings but is confident she will give Gauff a sterner test the next time they go head-to-head.

"I'd really like to play her again. Maybe with more than five hours of practice under my belt," Raducanu said.

"Yes, she's a great opponent. I think that we're going to be playing each other many times in the future as we're both young and coming. We're going to be the next generation."

Raducanu is now looking forward to building up her fitness and form over the first half of the season.

"I'm just looking forward to putting in the work, and I feel I'm putting in a good system in place," she added.

"I'm feeling good and confident that in six months' time I know it's not going to be the finished product, but hopefully I would have made strides."

Coco Gauff may not be the most popular person on her own TikTok, but she impressed the crowds at Melbourne Park as she beat Emma Raducanu in straight sets.

In what was a much-anticipated clash at the Australian Open between the world number seven and the 2021 US Open champion, it was Gauff who emerged on top with a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory to seal passage to the third round.

It also made Gauff the first woman to win 100 Tour-level main draw matches before turning 19 since Caroline Wozniacki did so in 2009.

The 18-year-old took the opening set by stepping up her game on key points, breaking her British opponent twice while saving six of seven break points against her.

In an even second set, Gauff was forced to save two set points as Raducanu tried to take advantage of the American's struggling forehand.

However, Gauff hit back to force a tie-break that she won in style with a drop shot followed by a lob.

"I just told myself to hang in there and I was playing really good tennis," Gauff said in an on-court interview. "I think we both started off rocky but I think the match was good quality for the most part.

"Considering the circumstances I think both of us were nervous, this was a long-anticipated match basically since the draw came out so I'm glad that it was a good match for you guys.

"At a grand slam you have to win seven matches and you have to expect to play the best, obviously you hope it's not in the second round but what can you do?

"I feel like we handled the pressure really well and kudos to Emma, I know she had a tough week in Auckland [suffering an ankle injury] so good for her to be able to play at this level after such a scary moment."

Gauff also joked about a TikTok she recently posted that divided opinion on her parents' dancing ability.

"I posted a video online and it got like a million views and everyone was hating on my dad in the comments, so I kind of felt bad... parents really do anything for their kids so I'm glad my dad took one for the team."

Asked who is the best dancer of the three of them, she replied: "Probably my mom, at least that's what the comments said.

"They said my mom ate both of us up... a lot of people asked for a solo video just of her and I was like: 'No, I'm the star, how do I get outshined on my own TikTok?'"

Maria Sakkari laughed off any suggestion of a "Netflix curse" after a comeback win over Diana Shnaider at the Australian Open.

Sakkari, seeded sixth in Melbourne, came from a set down to beat Shnaider 3-6 7-5 6-3 on Wednesday.

That marked the Greek's fifth career comeback win in a grand slam main draw, though her first since the fourth round at the 2021 US Open against Bianca Andreescu, and her first at the Australian Open.

Across this season and last year, Sakkari has played 25 Tour-level matches that have gone the distance, with only Ons Jabeur (26), Belinda Bencic (27) and Aryna Sabalenka (28) having played more three-set matches in the same timeframe.

Sakkari was one of nine players (four from the WTA Tour, five from the ATP Tour) to feature in Netflix's new Break Point series, which was launched on the streaming platform earlier this month.

However, three of those players – Nick Kyrgios, Ajla Tomljanovic and Paula Badosa – had to withdraw from the season's first grand slam due to injuries, while Matteo Berrettini was defeated by Andy Murray in his first-round match.

Yet Sakkari does not believe in such superstitions as a "Netflix curse".

"Netflix curse? I have never heard that," Sakkari said.

"I mean, the only one that I can think of is Matteo, but Matteo lost his match 7-6 on the fifth set. I personally have to say that they only bring us luck, and I enjoyed my time with them because they are nice people.

"Trust me, they are very, very nice. You know, if you let these thoughts and this energy affect you, then it's when bad luck comes.

"I would say that because they are all very nice and they are all very respectful, they have only brought me good luck."

She smiled: "Obviously some tournaments I play badly because I play badly. It's not because of them! But, yes, overall it has been great."

Shnaider, in her first meeting with Sakkari, became the first female qualifier to win the opening set at the Australian Open against a top-eight seeded opponent since Angelique Kerber against Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2010.

Sakkari will face Lin Zhu in the third round, after the latter's win over Jil Teichmann.

The pair have only met once before, in qualifying for the 2016 Australian Open, with Sakkari coming out on top.

Jessica Pegula has been wearing a number three on her outfit at the Australian Open, and she confirmed it is to show support to Damar Hamlin.

Buffalo Bills safety Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2 and spent over a week in hospital, much of that time in critical condition.

Pegula's parents own the NFL franchise as well as the Buffalo Sabres NHL team, and during her second-round win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Melbourne, was seen with a number three on her skirt, which is Hamlin's number and became a symbol of appreciation from well-wishers during his recovery.

"I definitely wanted to do something," Pegula said after her 6-2 7-6 (7-5) victory over Sasnovich. "We were kind of figuring out what the Bills and the Sabres were doing, just as far as what was the message.

"I knew they would probably do something and what message were they trying to send. It ended up being [that] the three was the symbol.

“I just thought it would be cool to put on my outfit here. I thought it would be a fun way to kind of connect with the team and then also just show my support."

There had been speculation that the number was related to her ranking, with the 28-year-old coincidentally the WTA world number three heading into the Australian Open, where she is the third seed, but Pegula laughed off the suggestion.

"I saw someone tweet that: 'Why would you put your ranking on your skirt?'. I'm, like, 'No, that’s not why,'" she said with amusement.

Pegula will play the winner of Olivia Gadecki and Marta Kostyuk in round three at Melbourne Park.

Tennis great Chris Evert has revealed she is cancer-free, just over a year after she began her fight against the illness.

Evert began chemotherapy in January 2022 after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Doctors caught Evert's cancer early after she had a preventative hysterectomy following the death of her sister, Jeanne, from the same disease.

The 68-year-old, who concluded her course of chemotherapy last May, confirmed the positive news on Tuesday, writing for ESPN: "A year ago, I started a journey to protect myself and my loved ones from the risks associated with the BRCA-related ovarian cancer that took my sister Jeanne's life. 

"It is only because of the genetic road map my sister left behind and the power of scientific progress that we caught my cancer early enough to do something about it.

"My doctor said if left undiscovered, in four months' time I would probably have been Stage Three like Jeanne, with very few options. Instead, I was diagnosed with Stage Three ovarian cancer, and I immediately began six rounds of chemotherapy.

"Today, I'm cancer-free, and there's a 90 per cent chance that the ovarian cancer will never come back."

However, Evert added her "story isn't over" and confirmed that on December 1, a year to the day since her hysterectomy, she underwent a double mastectomy in order to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Evert said she is "well on the road to recovery".

She explained: "I have one more surgery left to complete reconstruction. They say this part is easy, but I can assure you, the last five years have not been.

"As relieved as I will be to get to the other side of this, I will always have a heavy heart. I will never heal from losing Jeanne, and I will never take for granted the gift she gave me in the process.

"My sister's journey saved my life, and I hope by sharing mine, I just might save somebody else's."

Evert won 18 grand slam titles across her illustrious career and enjoyed an on-court rivalry with Martina Navratilova.

When Navratilova confirmed her own cancer diagnosis earlier this year, Evert was among those to offer their support.

Evert posted on Twitter: "Thinking of @Martina today and supporting her journey, like she did mine, with love and prayers. This is a woman who takes on challenges with strength and resilience…You got this, Martina."

Ons Jabeur said a knee problem presents her with "a great challenge" at the Australian Open as she looks to reach a third successive grand slam final.

Tamara Zidansek, the world number 98, gave Jabeur plenty to think about in round one on Tuesday, but the Slovenian eventually faded as the second seed came through a 7-6 (10-8) 4-6 6-1 winner.

Two hours and 17 minutes will have been longer than Jabeur wanted to stay out on Rod Laver Arena, but she was pleased to at least finish strongly.

The Tunisian is making a habit of getting through to major finals, losing to Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon and Iga Swiatek at the US Open, but she dearly wants to be a winner on such an occasion.

That may still happen in Australia, but Jabeur had taping on her right knee and may find it is beyond her to go deep into the tournament this fortnight. She said the performance was "not the way I wanted to play", and there seems little doubt the knee was a factor.

"It's not a big injury, but sometimes it might bother me," Jabeur said.

"I try to take it one day at a time. It's a great challenge. I'm going to challenge myself and see if I cannot play 100 per cent, but we'll try to push and be able to do something with it for sure."

Her back has also been an issue in recent weeks, and Jabeur had the crowd in creases by saying she would demand a late-night massage from her husband. She quickly clarified that was all she was asking from him, pointing out he is her fitness coach.

Jabeur expects to have a "light practice" on Wednesday ahead of facing Marketa Vondrousova or Alison Riske-Amritraj in round two the following day.

In the second set, she trailed 5-3 but snatched a break back and would have hoped to then get the job done in straight sets, only to be broken herself.

Iga Swiatek, the top seed, was in a similar situation in her opener against Jule Niemeier on Monday, managing to get the job done in two rather than go to a decider.

"It's nice to see Iga from 5-3 [winning] 7-5. I wanted to do that today, but I'm not Iga," Jabeur said. "Better 6-1 in the third set."

Iga Swiatek believes people sometimes treat her like a "robot who has to win all the time" and are focused too much on "numbers and statistics."

Swiatek came through her first-round match at the Australian Open on Monday as she beat Jule Niemeier 6-4 7-5, though she trailed 5-3 in the second set before winning four-straight games.

The world number one will face Camila Osorio in the second round on Wednesday, and admitted she had needed to find another gear to overcome her German opponent.

"I knew that I could get my focus up a little bit, [increase] the intensity a little bit more. So I did that," she said.

"But my goal for my next matches is not being in those situations and not starting the set with losing a break, but it happens. I'm happy that I was able to come back. It wasn't like I needed to really change a lot. I just needed to have more intensity."

After an impressive 2022 season, that saw her win the French Open and US Open, expectations have risen around Swiatek, which the 21-year-old has noticed.

"For sure, I feel like people are really focused on the numbers and on the statistics," she said. "I feel like they're looking at those matches not seeing that we are still people, and we have to really fight for it. 

"I know that I also put a lot of expectations on myself, but I'm working on that. It just feels like sometimes they're not treating you still as a human, but more like a robot who has to win."

Swiatek has now won the first round in a grand slam tournament in 15 of her previous 16 appearances, but admitted she only developed confidence in playing on hard courts last year.

"At the beginning of last year I didn't have that much confidence that I can also win big titles on hard court because all of them basically happened last season," she said.

"Also before I think the media kind of described me as a clay court player. Maybe that got into me a little bit. But, yeah, for sure working with [coach] Tomasz [Wiktorowski], I just felt like I can be more aggressive on hard court. I don't have to be the baseline player. I really used that in my matches, then the results kind of showed me that I'm going right direction."

Iga Swiatek made it through to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 7-5 win against Jule Niemeier, though was again tested by the German.

In a rematch of their US Open fourth-round match in which Swiatek had to recover from a set down before going on to ultimately win the tournament, Niemeier gave Swiatek problems again with her power and ability to utilise the fast conditions.

An even first set saw Swiatek unable to find a break point until she was 5-4 ahead, before forcing two set points, eventually taking the second as a strong forehand could only be returned into the net.

Niemeier came out in the second set determined to make amends, though, breaking Swiatek in the opening game as she looked to overwhelm the Pole.

The 23-year-old belied her status as the world number 69, causing the top seed problems as she mixed power hitting with some nice drop shots but, as she served for the set, Swiatek turned up the dial and forced the break to level at 5-5.

After holding her own serve it looked like the second set would head to a tie-break, but Swiatek's increase in intensity made the difference again as some expertly placed deep and wide shots caused another break as she sealed a straight-sets win.

"Honestly I wanted to be focused on myself because she can serve amazing," Swiatek said in her on-court interview. "She uses fast conditions so I just wanted to think what I could do to push her back.

"I'm pretty happy I got through this match because the fist round is always tricky and playing Jule is always tricky."

Data slam: Swiatek takes advantage of second serve

Niemeier's serve gave Swiatek problems throughout, but the Pole was ruthless when she was given rare opportunities.

Despite a success on her first serve of 71 per cent (32/45), Niemeier could only win 35 per cent on her second (9/26).

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Swiatek – 20/28

Niemeier – 18/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Swiatek – 0/3

Niemeier – 3/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Swiatek – 3/5

Niemeier – 1/3

Coco Gauff believes all the pressure will be on Emma Raducanu when the two face each other in the second round of the Australian Open.

Neither had any difficulties in their opening matches of the tournament at Melbourne Park on Monday, with Gauff easing past Katerina Siniakova 6-1 6-4 while Raducanu dispatched Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 6-2.

Gauff pointed to the pressure Raducanu has faced since her surprise US Open win in 2021 and thinks that her opponent being the main British hope could play to her advantage. 

"Obviously she's gone through a lot of pressure, bursting onto the scene. I feel like probably more than I have experienced coming to win a slam," Gauff said.

"Especially being from the UK, the first British person to do something in a long time, probably is a lot more pressure than what I'm used to being an American. Obviously I was a lot younger when I got the attention, so I definitely think handling it at an older age is a little bit easier than at 15. But also, at the same time, I didn't win a slam.

"There's always, for American fans, someone to look to. Whereas I feel like, the British, it's just her. There's other British players, but no one has done what she's done and gotten that far in a slam."

Raducanu also sealed her passage to the second round without much fuss as she put her recent injury issues behind her with a convincing win over Korpatsch.

"I'm obviously really happy to be through to the second round," Raducanu said. "It was always going to be difficult, coming in with so little prep and being out there.

"Everything I've done has been quite controlled the last week. So to test it out in a real match and with the unpredictability and stuff, I was just getting used to it in the beginning. But it felt good."

Despite being a grand slam winner, Raducanu came into the tournament 77th in the WTA rankings, 70 places below Gauff, but the 20-year-old is looking forward to facing another player she sees as part of the next generation.

"I'm really looking forward to this match," she added. "I'm very up for it. Coco has obviously done a lot of great things and she's playing well.

"I think we're both good, young players, we're both coming through, part of the next generation of tennis, really. It's going to be a great match."

Coco Gauff wants to prove she is more than simply a "teenage phenomenon" as she bids to become a grand slam champion at the Australian Open.

The 18-year-old faces Katerina Siniakova in the first round in Melbourne on Monday, ranked as the seventh seed for the first major of the year.

Gauff has enjoyed a remarkable start to her career, winning the first of three WTA Tour singles titles at the age of just 15 at the 2019 Linz Open.

She reached the last 16 at Wimbledon in the same year after defeating Venus Williams in the opening round, but Gauff is hungry to make her reputation more than just an age thing as she seeks a first major.

"Starting another season as an established pro feels pretty weird. I'm still only 18, but I don't feel like the new kid anymore," she said in a BBC Sport column on Sunday.

"I feel I'm ready to leave behind the tag of 'teenage phenomenon'. Now it is time to be known as a grand slam champion.

"I feel like all the players still call me a baby, and usually I'm still one of the youngest in the draw, but I've been around for a while. My main ambition for 2023 is winning a grand slam title. That's the biggest goal.

"It is something I have chased for my whole life and I came so close last year by reaching the French Open final. If winning a major doesn't happen this year, I will continue to chase this dream."

Gauff was a 6-1 6-3 loser to Iga Swiatek in the Roland Garros final last year, with the Pole dominating the WTA as she claimed eight titles, including the French Open and US Open.

Teenager Gauff was tearful after that match in Paris but has started this season by winning the Auckland Open, becoming the sixth American player to secure three or more WTA-level titles in the last 40 years before turning 19.

Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Venus and Serena Williams were the others to achieve that feat and Gauff hopes she can learn from previous failures to succeed in Australia this month.

The world number seven added: "I know I can win a grand slam title. Now it is about making the final step. One of my other goals was to win a WTA Tour title – I didn't do that last year – and I have already that checked off by winning in Auckland last week.

"The signs are good and hopefully this success continues throughout the season."

If successful, Gauff could become the first teenage female player to reach the final at the Australian Open since Maria Sharapova in 2007 and the first to win the title since Martina Hingis in 1999.

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