The first main-draw play day of the 2022 WTA season is behind us. “Tennis makes an epic return,” state the organizers of the Adelaide International 1, and the tournament is justifying expectations.
Third seed Maria Sakkari became the WTA’s first main-draw winner of 2022 with a 6-2 0-6 6-4 victory over Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek. After being bageled in the second set, Sakkari built a 3-0 lead in the decider. The world No.30 Zidansek leveled the third set to 3-3, but Sakkari won three of the last four games, including the last eight points, and squeezed into the second round despite not playing her best tennis.
Seventh seed Elena Rybakina also needed three sets to get past Australian wildcard Storm Sanders 6-4 1-6 6-1. The Kazakh hit 44 winners and nine aces. When it comes to breaks, the world No.14 broke her opponent’s serve five times and saved nine of the 13 break points she faced to win the see-saw battle and reach the second round in Adelaide.
The highlight of the day was Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon‘s upset of two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2. The world No.263 Hon recorded her first Top 20 win and explained:
I’ve struggled in the past to close out matches quite a few times. They’re nightmares for me when I think back to them. Going into this I had a completely different mindset.
Previously, Hon’s best career win in terms of ranking had been the one against No.42 Ajla Tomljanovic at 2019 Seoul.
The world No.17 Kvitova was making her debut appearance in Adelaide. The Czech has lost to players ranked outside Top 200 only three times since 2009.
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, the 2021 US Open runner-up, beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 to set up a second-round clash with either fifth seed Iga Swiatek or Daria Saville.
The 19-year-old Fernandez used to wear Asics, but it looks like she’s awaiting a new clothing sponsor, as in Adelaide her apparel has no logo.
Ajla Tomljanovic made a good start to her 2022 season with a 6-4 7-6(5) win over Heather Watson. The Croatian-born Australian has switched from K-Swiss to Original Penguin tennis apparel.
Victoria Azarenka and Paula Badosa teamed up in doubles to defeat top seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 6-4 6-2. The Belarusian and the Spaniard are facing each other in the first round of singles on Tuesday.
Azarenka and Badosa looked cute both wearing the Nike Winter Advantage Pleat Skirt.
Meanwhile, top two seeds Ashleigh Barty and Aryna Sabalenka talked to the media while enjoying first-round byes at the Adelaide International 1.
First-round action continues at the Adelaide International 1 at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Elina Svitolina, Iga Swiatek, Paula Badosa, Victoria Azarenka, and Sofia Kenin are the biggest names waiting to take the court.