Two seeded players kicked off 2022 on Monday with three-set victories at the first WTA 500 event in Adelaide: No.3 seed Maria Sakkari and No.7 seed Elena Rybakina each closed first-round victories emphatically after splitting sets with Tamara Zidansek and Storm Sanders, respectively.
As the WTA's first main-draw winner of the year, Sakkari won a match in which she was served a bagel for the second time in the past four years.
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The first meeting between the two beaten semifinalists at the 2021 French Open lasted 2 hours and 5 minutes, and Sakkari won three of the final four games — including the last eight points — after Zidansek leveled the decider from 3-0 down. She won with a final score: 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.
Later on Centre Court, Rybakina also sprinted to victory late in her match. A break down to Aussie wildcard Sanders to start the third set, the world No. 14 won the last six games to level the pair's career head-to-head at 1-1.
Stat Check: Sakkari won the match with defense. Though Zidansek hit 20 more winners (45 to 25), the Slovenian also racked up 10 more unforced errors (31 to 21). The match featured eight breaks of serve, four for each player, with a combined 27 break points.
Conversely, Rybakina was the aggressor in her 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory against Sanders, hitting 44 winners and nine aces in victory. She broke serve five times and saved nine of the 13 break points she faced.
The two victorious seeds could be on course to face off in the quarterfinals: Rybakina's next opponent will be the winner of the match between qualifiers Marie Bouzkova and Despina Papamichail, while Sakkari will face either American Shelby Rogers or Aussie Maddison Inglis.
While Slovenia's top player in Zidansek was beaten in the first round, the country's No.2 flew the flag into the Round of 16. Kaja Juvan, the world No.100, will be No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka's first opponent in Adelaide after she scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over France's Chloe Paquet.