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Australian Open Day 2: Ash Barty, Rafael Nadal, Sofia Kenin advance, Jessica Pegula upsets 2-time champ

Jason Owens
·4-min read

Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 ranked woman, absolutely dominated the competition in her first Grand Slam match in nearly a year. Playing in her home country, Barty was so dominant that her opponent, Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, didn’t win a single game. In just 44 minutes, Barty defeated Kovinic 6-0, 6-0.

It was the perfect start for Barty, who was thrilled to be playing in front of Aussie fans.

Rafael Nadal bounces back from injury scare

It wasn’t a given that Rafael Nadal would look like himself in Round 1. The onetime Australian Open champ has been dealing with back issues that kept him from playing for Spain in last week’s ATP Cup. But he looked exactly like you’d expect the No. 2 ranked player to look, besting Serbia’s Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.

During his postgame news conference, Nadal acknowledged that he’s not sure how his back will hold up now that he’s playing competitive five-set tennis again. He characterized his win against Djere as “surviving,” but was encouraged by the positive start.

"I need to go day-to-day and just try to stay positive," Nadal said via ESPN. "Of course every day that I am trying to stay here longer is a day with a chance to get better finally. ... Trying to do all the things possible to be ready [to] compete, for what I came here."

Sofia Kenin survives

Sofia Kenin faced an unexpected early challenge to open her title defense at the Australian Open Tuesday.

The No. 4 seed American was broken in the fourth game of her opening match and found herself in a 3-1 hole to Austrailian Maddison Inglis.

Inglis turned her 3-1 edge in the first set into a 5-4 advantage before Kenin rallied for a 7-5 win.

Inglis made Kenin work for the second set as well, but the reigning WTA Player of the Year prevailed to advance to the second round, 7-5, 6-4.

Kenin, 22, is coming off a career year that saw her advance to the French Open final in addition to defeating world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty en route to last year’s Australian Open Final victory over Garbiñe Muguruza.

She advances to take on Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the second round.

Sofia Kenin of The United States of America plays a backhand in her Women's Singles first round match against Maddison Inglis of Australia during day two of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 09, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Sofia Kenin faced a tougher than expected first-round test from wild card and World No. 133 Inglis. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

American Jessica Pegula upends No. 12 seed Victoria Azarenka

Another former champ wasn’t able to rally from her first round-deficit. American Jessica Pegula pulled off the biggest upset of the first round on Tuesday with a straight-sets victory over No. 12 seed Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 6-4.

After winning the first set, Pegula was in control of the second when Azarenka required a medical break as she appeared to struggle with her breathing while trailing, 4-2. She returned to the court after a brief break to win the game. But Pegula maintained control of the set to eliminate the two-time Australian Open champion (2012, 13) and advance to the second round.

Jessica Pegula of the U.S. celebrates after winning  her first round match against Belarus' Victoria Azarenka REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
Jessica Pegula secured the biggest upset of the Australian Open so far. (Reuters/Jaimi Joy)

Pegula, 26, is the daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Kim and Terry Pegula. Her Citi Open championship in 2019 is her sole WTA singles title.

Round 2 now set

To round out Day 2, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece dominated France’s Gilles Simon in straight sets. The women’s No. 5, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, defeated Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in a match with a second set tiebreak. Sixth-ranked Karolina Pliskova had no trouble handling Italy’s Jasmine Paolini to advance. No. 4 Daniil Medvedev is headed to Round 2 after beating Canada’s Vasek Pospisil. And to round out Day 2, American Coco Gauff victory over Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann means she’ll play again on Thursday.

Round 1 is now in the books, and Round 2 will start Wednesday. Kenin, Barty, and Nadal and the other Day 2 winners join a group of Day 1 favorites who advanced to the second round including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.

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