MELBOURNE, Australia - No.4 seed Elina Svitolina continued her winning start to the year, striking 23 winners en route to a 6-3, 6-2 defeat of qualifier Ivana Jorovic in one hour and 12 minutes.
From level pegging at 3-3, the Brisbane International champion took her game up a gear to run off eight consecutive games, including a spell of 12 out of 15 points in the second set, to take herself to the brink of victory. The Serb, making her Slam debut in Melbourne, battled hard in the closing stages, breaking Svitolina back once and saving four match points with brave plays, but was unable to fend off a final vicious forehand from the 23-year-old.
The Ukrainian will now face Shenzhen Open runner-up Katerina Siniakova, who continued her fine start to 2018 with a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 victory over Maria Sakkari.
Elsewhere, Monica Puig saved a match point to score her second consecutive win over Samantha Stosur in Australia 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, following her defeat of the 2011 US Open champion in the Sydney quarterfinals two years ago. Stosur is now on a four-match losing streak at her home Slam stretching back to 2015.
National pride was restored in the final match of the day, though, as No.23 seed Daria Gavrilova wasted little time in moving past qualifier Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-1 in 64 minutes. Gavrilova, who has reached the second week in Melbourne for two years running, will now face a stern test in Hobart International champion Elise Mertens, who dealt with the big-serving qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2, 6-1.
For her part, Puig will now face Kaia Kanepi, who pounded eight aces and 28 winners past No.24 seed Dominika Cibulkova to upset the 2014 runner-up 6-2, 6-2. The Australian Open is the only Slam at which Kanepi, who only returned from an extended injury break in June, has not reached the quarterfinals.
Another seed with a strong Melbourne history fell in the day's only overtime match when Irina-Camelia Begu overcame 2015 semifinalist and No.31 seed Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 - the first time in eleven visits here that Makarova had lost her opening round.
However, No.30 seed Kiki Bertens and No.32 seed Anett Kontaveit both survived dangerous opponents. Bertens came from a set down to end 18-year-old Catherine Bellis's Australian Open debut at the first hurdle 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2, while Kontaveit joined her compatriot Kanepi in the second round with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Aleksandra Krunic - the Estonian's first ever main draw victory in Melbourne.
No.15 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova needed to retrieve a 1-3 final set deficit before overcoming Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, but there were simpler straight-sets wins for No.19 seed Magdalena Rybarikova (6-0, 7-5 over Taylor Townsend) and No.22 seed Daria Kasatkina (6-0, 6-3 over qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova). Meanwhile, No.12 seed Julia Goerges extended her winning streak to 15 by defeating Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-4.