Melbourne : American teen sensation Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula and Britain’s Emma Raducanu opened their 2023 Australian Open campaign with a victory here on Monday. The 18-year-old Gauff advanced to the second round with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova.
Playing in her fourth Australian Open, Gauff opened up play on Rod Laver Arena and powered through the first set in just 22 minutes. Siniakova struck back in the second set and looked primed to take the match to a third set after winning the longest rally of the match — 22 strokes — and breaking Gauff to lead 4-2.
Gauff broke back immediately and once again to earn a chance to serve out the win. In the longest game of the match, Siniakova gamely saved six match points before the American closed out the win with a backhand volley winner.
Another American Pegula, after guiding her country to United Cup success in Sydney, carried her hard-court form to Melbourne where she needed less than an hour to advance 6-0, 6-1 over Romanian Jaqueline Cristian.
Great Britain’s Raducanu faced Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, who was aiming for the first Grand Slam main-draw victory of her career, and eased past her 27-year-old opponent 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Sturdy groundstrokes reminiscent of her run to the US Open title helped Raducanu improve to 2-0 against Korpatsch. Raducanu set up a hotly anticipated second-round clash with No.7 seed Gauff while Pegula awaits the winner of Brenda Fruhvirtova and Aliaskandra Sasnovich.
In other matches, No.6 seed Greek player Maria Sakkari hit 38 winners to largely roll in a 6-1, 6-4 opening win over China’s Yuan Yue to kick off her eighth Australian Open campaign in 94 minutes.
She came from 3-1 down in the second set. Sakkari will next face another first-time Australian Open competitor in Round 2, qualifier Diana Shnaider. The 18-year-old left-hander battled for a 7-6(6), 7-5 win over Kristina Kucova for her first-ever Grand Slam main-draw victory.
Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk tapped into her successful history at Melbourne Park to oust No.28 seed Amanda Anisimova, 6-3, 6-4. The 20-year-old tallied the first upset of the tournament in 78 minutes, breaking Anisimova on each of the four break points she faced.
Kostyuk will face Australian wild card Olivia Gadecki in the second round. The 20-year-old Gadecki earned a win in Grand Slam debut, defeating Polina Kudermetova 7-5, 6-1. The 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada upset No.25 seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour and 41 minutes.
Andreescu will take on qualifier Cristina Bucsa for the first time in the second round, and if she can get through that, a third-round match with World No.1 Iga Swiatek is a distinct possibility.