While two Top 10 seeds were on their way to elimination, Iga Swiatek stayed the course. After dropping only three games in her first-round win Tuesday, the No.7 seed sealed a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 win over Sweden's Rebecca Peterson to advance to the third round at Melbourne Park for the third straight year.
From 3-1 down, Swiatek won 11 straight games in her opening round against Harriet Dart. She started Thursday's match against Peterson much quicker. Swiatek won eight of the first 10 points as well as the first four games, and won five straight games en route to wrapping up the match in the second set.
She credited the quick start for the easy win.
"Just starting the match with confidence was pretty important for me," Swiatek said after the match. "I felt like I was dominating from the beginning, and after getting a couple of breaks, it was much easier to go forward. That was the key, basically."
Ready, willing and able: Swiatek needed just 67 minutes to score her second win against the Swedish No.1 at a major in the span of a year. Swiatek beat Peterson her in the same round of last year's French Open, losing only two games.
🤹🤹🤹🤹@iga_swiatek got skillz.#AusOpen · #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/zG4YiEc07W— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2022
Swiatek said she and new coach Tomasz Witkorowski put together a comprehensive game plan that accounted for their first meeting on a new surface.
"I was ready for everything," Swiatek said. "But I knew she's going to play probably heavy forehand, a lot of topspin. I didn't want to let her play her game on the forehand, so basically I knew that if we were going to, for example, play backhand cross-court, I'm going to have more [of an] advantage.
"Going forehand on forehand, it may be pretty equal. I just knew this kind of stuff. But my coach wanted me to kind of have a game plan on every point, so we weren't talking really specifically about every aspect of the game. It was more like [an] overall idea."
All-Polish clash denied: Up next for Swiatek is a meeting with No.25 Daria Kasatkina, who eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Swiatek's compatriot Magda Linette. Should she want to reach the fourth round for the third year running, Swiatek will again have to adapt to a first hard-court meeting. She lost to Kasatkina in three sets on grass in Eastbourne last summer.
Sabalenka survives again despite serve, rallies to beat Wang Xinyu
The only place for Aryna Sabalenka to go after the first half hour of her match on Rod Laver Arena was up. After serving 12 double faults in a 6-1 first-set loss to Wang Xinyu, the No.2 seed again dug deep.
She lost serve just once more in the second and third sets, hitting only seven more doubles combined to rally for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Sabalenka survives 💪— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2022
No.2 seed @SabalenkaA digs deep for a 1-6 6-4 6-2 comeback win over Xinyu Wang.#AusOpen · #AO2022
🎥: @wwos · @espn · @eurosport · @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/xo6uklNhNq
On the bright side: If there's one thing that's not in doubt, it's Sabalenka's fight. Her first two victories at this year's Australian Open mark the first time she's rallied from a set down to win multiple matches at a major. She's improved her all-time record in those matches to 5-15.
Pavlyuchenkova ends Stosur's singles career
Samantha Stosur's singles career got the sendoff it deserved on Kia Arena, both in atmosphere and in opposition.
After a 6-2, 6-2 win over the 37-year-old former US Open champion, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova sat in her chair, gave a small wave to the crowd and let the Aussie have her moment.
“It’s a special moment for Sam and I want to give it to her," Pavlyuchenkova said in her on-court interview. "It was actually very emotional for me, too. I had goosebumps when everybody was clapping for Sam. She's such a wonderful human being & also an amazing tennis player, so thank you Sam."
Surrounded by family, friends and an adoring public, Stosur was honored on court with a ceremony and video tribute by her peers featuring Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka and Ajla Tomljanovic, among others.
"I dreamed of winning a Grand Slam. To do what I've done, dreaming as a little kid is phenomenal."— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2022
Congratulations on a wonderful singles career @bambamsam30 🙌#AusOpen · #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/OGiFNJWTsC
The No.10 seed Pavlyuchenkova advances to a third-round meeting with Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who was a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Slovakia's Kristina Kucova. The two have split six career meetings but haven't played in four years.
Inglis' dream run continues; into Round 3
Aussie wildcard Maddison Inglis and American qualifier Hailey Baptiste took to Margaret Court Arena in a match of opportunity after both upset heralded players in Round 1. Inglis dispatched No.23 seed and US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez while Baptiste took out former Top 10 player Caroline Garcia, and the two women outside the Top 100 dueled with their first third-round berth at a major at stake.
At the end of 2 hours, 7 minutes, it was Inglis who added another chapter to her story with a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 victory.
The wildcard's world: Inglis is the first Aussie wildcard to reach Round 3 at her home major since Kimberly Birrell in 2019, and she's now won consecutive tour-level matches for the first time.
After cruising in a straight-sets win against Fernandez, Inglis beat Baptiste the hard way. She twice served for the first set before winning it in a tiebreak and won six straight games from 2-0 down in the third.