SYDNEY, Australia -- In a hard-hitting encounter, Italy's Camila Giorgi ousted Australian wild card Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-3, 6-3, to claim her spot in the second round of the Sydney International on Monday, as she aims to match or better her semifinal result from last year.
After rain caused havoc throughout the day, delaying and interrupting the first-round tilt, it was the World No.26 who emerged victorious in the first meeting between the combatants, eventually closing out the victory in an hour and a half.
"It was a very nice match," Giorgi said. "I think I was consistent mentally, because the first match of the season is more mental than technical. I had a very nice preparation, so everything was going well."
Giorgi moves forward and will now face the woman who eliminated her in the Sydney semifinals last year -- World No.2 and defending champion Angelique Kerber.
Following a protracted rain delay at 2-1, upon resumption, Giorgi took control of the big-hitting affair by breaking for a 4-2 lead after forcing an error from Tomljanovic at the end of a lengthy rally. The Italian consolidated in the next game with some clutch outstanding serves, coming back from 0-30 down to hold for 5-2.
Tomljanovic needed powerful forehands and inch-perfect depth on her backhand to evade two set points in the following game and hold for 5-3.
Giorgi then served for the opening frame, but was unable to quickly wrap it up, as three more set points came and went. But an ace gave Giorgi a sixth set point, and the Italian finally closed out the set after a Tomljanovic forehand found the net.
The second seemed to be quickly headed Giorgi’s way, as she held a break point in the opening game of the set, and broke Tomljanovic in her next service game to lead 2-1. But the Australian used her own barrage of brutal hitting to break back for 2-2, then swiftly hold to lead 3-2.
But Giorgi would brush off that minor stumble and roll from there, breaking for 4-3 with a forehand winner in the forecourt. Then, at 5-3, the Italian reached triple match point by crushing a forehand service return for a winner down the line.
Two points later, another forehand missile gave Giorgi the victory and a second-round date with Kerber.
Known for her aggressive style of play, the Italian won 76 percent of points on her first serve, and blasted 21 winners to more than compensate for her 20 unforced errors. World No.46 Tomljanovic also had many winners -- 17 in total -- but was undone by 27 unforced errors of her own.