There's more than one route to winning a tennis match, as demonstrated by the final two victors on Day 2 of the Adelaide International.
No.7 seed Yulia Putintseva edged Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-4 in a first-round match characterized by a plethora of touch shots, extended all-court exchanges and a decent dose of drama. One court over, the unseeded Shelby Rogers kicked off second-round action with a 6-2, 6-2 upset of No.3 seed Johanna Konta composed almost entirely of boom-boom first-strike tennis.
The clash between Putintseva and Siegemund, two players renowned as much for their competitive spirit as shotmaking finesse, did not disappoint. Both showed off their fondness for the dropshot as well as supreme defensive skills.
But it was Putintseva who fired herself up to play her best tennis at the end of each set, with the Kazakh's lobs particularly on point. In the first set, she came from a break down at 3-4 to run off the next four games. When Siegemund threatened a similar turnaround in the second, levelling at 3-3 from a break down, Putintseva held firm during a tempestuous passage of play in which both players' tempers frayed.
"I never had such a tough opponent who was trying to do everything possible to win the match," said Putintseva afterwards. "She was doing everything on court - slicing, dropshots, coming to net. So I was mentally ready for no rhythm at all. I was just trying to move my feet as fast as I can and to find the right shot to finish it."
Meanwhile, Rogers delivered a near-flawless performance against Konta, committing just two unforced errors in the first set and eight in the second to 23 winners overall. Konta, playing her first match since an abdominal injury forced her to retire against Kaja Juvan in the first round of the Australian Open two weeks ago, was unable to gain any rhythm against the surging Rogers.
"I can't feel much better than that," said the American, who is fresh off a run to the fourth round of the Australian Open. "I wish I could bottle up that match and keep it for a later date."
Rogers repeatedly teed off on Konta's serve, breaking the Briton four times in total in a returning masterclass. She was able to dominate with her own delivery in the first set losing only four points behind it, but had to withstand somewhat more pressure in the second. This she pulled off successfully: Rogers faced a break point in three separate games, and each time staved it off with strong serving.
Elsewhere, qualifier Storm Sanders continued a career-best week with a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic. Sanders, who rose to a high of World No.202 as a 19-year-old in February 2014 after upsetting Peng Shuai in Hobart that year, began a singles comeback in 2019. This week has seen the World No.292 score her first two Top 100 victories since the Peng win, beating Bernarda Pera to qualify and now Tomljanovic.