Rome PHOTOS: Azarenka stuns twice defending champion Svitolina


This tennis Tuesday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia was marked by the loss of twice defending champion Elina Svitolina and a spoiled all-Williams second-round match scheduled for tomorrow. Our photographer Jimmie48 was out and about all day, handling the rain as professionally as today’s WTA winners to give us an insight into the tournament atmosphere through photos.

Late at night, the 2017 and 2018 Rome titlist and fifth seed Elina Svitolina lost a tight, rain-affected three-setter to tennis mom Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Wildcard Azarenka lost the first set and faced a match point in the decider, but completed a stunning 4-6 6-1 7-5 victory in two hours and 14 minutes after winning five games in a row from 2-5 to 7-5 in the third set. The photos show how Vika adapted to the rainy circumstances better than Elina, as her attitude seemed positive even when she was not leading.

Also in the second round, eighth seed Ashleigh Barty overcame Viktoria Kuzmova in three sets, firing 10 aces en route to a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win to extend her perfect 12-0 career record when hitting 10 or more aces in a match, while fourth seed Karolina Pliskova dispatched Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3 6-3.

Tuesday was mostly about first-round action, though, and I would single out Maria Sakkari‘s 6-1 7-5 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Greek, who won her maiden WTA title in Rabat two weeks ago, went all the way through qualifying in Rome and gave us an interesting insight into her lucky charm:

It’s funny, a bird s**t on my bag before the tournament in Rabat so I was like, good things are going to happen. So I haven’t cleaned my bag since then. I think I’m not going to wash it.

Not all players completed their matches on Tuesday. Dizzy Jelena Ostapenko retired against Mihaela Buzarnescu just a game away from losing in straight sets, while Caroline Wozniacki retired because of a left lower leg injury after losing the first set in a tiebreak to Danielle Collins. Serena Williams, who was scheduled to play her sister Venus on Wednesday, quit the tournament because of an ongoing knee problem.



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