Defending champion Iga Swiatek got her 2022 season off to a flying start Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over homeland hope Daria Saville in the first round of the Adelaide International 1.
Swiatek, the World No.9 from Poland, needed 79 minutes to dispatch the former Top 20 player Saville (née Gavrilova), who was playing her first event after her off-season marriage to ATP pro Luke Saville.
Fast facts: Saville missed almost all of last year due to an Achilles injury but has a long list of top-tier victories in her history, with 11 Top 10 wins to her credit. However, the Aussie qualifier was unable to add a win over Swiatek to her ledger in their first meeting.
Swiatek, at age 20 the youngest player in the Top 10, won this title last year without dropping a set. That was her first hard-court title and second title overall, following the 2020 Roland Garros championship (which she also won without dropping a set). Swiatek is now 11-0 in sets at this event.
Tale of the match: Swiatek fell behind an early break at 2-1 in the opening set, but the No.5 seed won five of the next six games to recover her bearings and take the one-set lead.
It was even easier for Swiatek in the second set, where she never faced a break point. The Pole finished up the match with a 76 percent success rate returning the Saville second serve, which likely pressured the Aussie into double faults on the last two points of the clash.
"I just focused on my game and being on court," Swiatek said in her post-match press conference. "I wanted to implement some stuff that I practiced here. It went out pretty well, so I'm pretty happy. It was solid match, so it's a good start."
Next up: Another skyrocketing youngster awaits Swiatek in the second round. Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez will be Swiatek’s next opponent, after Fernandez charged past Ekaterina Alexandrova on Monday.
This will be the first professional meeting between the two, though they met once in juniors, with Swiatek taking a straight-sets win in 2015. Both would go on to win junior Grand Slam singles titles: Swiatek at 2018 Wimbledon, and Fernandez at 2019 Roland Garros.
Kenin grabs first win since Wimbledon
Sofia Kenin, who finished runner-up to Swiatek at 2020 Roland Garros, also notched a victory in Adelaide on Tuesday. Kenin, seeded No.6, defeated Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 7-5, 7-5.
The 2020 Australian Open champion Kenin is contesting her first event since 2021 Wimbledon, more than six months ago. The former World No.4 from the United States had her hands full with 148th-ranked Bronzetti, who reached her first three WTA singles quarterfinals last season.
Kenin led 5-2 in the second set before Bronzetti stormed back to 5-5, and the Italian saved five match points. Nevertheless, Kenin recovered to clinch victory in 1 hour and 44 minutes.
In the second round, World No.12 Kenin will meet an Aussie on home soil, Ajla Tomljanovic.
Gauff cruises, Gasanova stuns Svitolina
Earlier in the day, there were mixed fortunes for two Top 25 players. Coco Gauff breezed into the second round, but Elina Svitolina was ousted by a rising upset specialist.
The 17-year-old American Gauff, ranked No.22, zipped past Norwegian qualifier Ulrikke Eikeri 6-2, 6-1. Gauff took just 63 minutes to oust 29-year-old Eikeri, who is ranked No.306 and was playing a Top 50 opponent for only the second time.
Gauff faced three break points in the opening frame but fended each of them off as she claimed the one-set lead. It was even more one-sided for the American in the second set, which she won without facing any break points.
With the victory, Gauff sets up an enticing second-round clash against World No.1 Ashleigh Barty on the Australian's home soil. In their only prior encounter, Gauff advanced past Barty in last year's Rome quarterfinals, after Barty retired from the match with an arm injury.
Concurrently, No.8 seed Svitolina of Ukraine lost to Russia's Anastasia Gasanova 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in a 2-hour and 34-minute barnburner.
The World No.130 Gasanova, 22, has now won both of her career matches against Top 20 players, and they both came in the opening week of the year. In 2021, Gasanova shocked Karolina Pliskova in the season-opening event in Abu Dhabi.
Playing her first main-draw match in Australia, Gasanova was unfazed after dropping the first set, and she broke 15th-ranked Svitolina three times apiece in the second and third sets to grit out the upset.
"I was just working so hard every single day [in the off-season], and I was just giving everything," Gasanova said on court.