Sabalenka rolls on at Australian Open, Volynets delivers upset

Aryna Sabalenka

ARYNA Sabalenka shook off a slow start to power past American Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-1 and moved into the Australian Open third round on Thursday, as normal service resumed at the season’s first Grand Slam after two days interrupted by heat and rain.

World number five Sabalenka, who warmed up for Melbourne Park by winning the Adelaide title, mowed down Tereza Martincova in her opener but struggled for rhythm in the opening exchanges with Rogers, dropping serve early in the first set.

The Belarusian soon hit her stride, however, and powered past the American to close out the match and stay unbeaten in six matches this year.

While Rogers’ hopes of an upset came to nothing, fellow American Katie Volynets stunned ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 2-6 6-2 in just her sixth main draw appearance at a Grand Slam, the world number 113 revelling in the Margaret Court Arena atmosphere.

“I have never played in a stadium this packed and that many people keeping the energy up for me,” said Volynets, who became the first U.S. qualifier to reach round three in women’s singles at Melbourne Park since Lindsay Davenport in 1993.

A moment of controversy saw Frenchman Jeremy Chardy lose his cool in his 6-4 6-4 6-1 defeat by Briton Dan Evans. Chardy unloaded on the chair umpire after she did not order a point replayed when a ball fell out of the Frenchman’s pocket during a rally.

“In my life, 20 years, I have never had one umpire bad like you,” he told umpire Miriam Bley.

“Where are you looking? You looking at the birds? The clouds?
“It’s the biggest mistake of the Australian Open.

There’s not one umpire on tour that does this mistake, not one.”

Evans will next meet Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who beat Finn Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3.

J.J. Wolf joined them in the next round after he beat Argentine Diego Schwartzman, the 23rd seed, 6-1 6-4 6-4.

The home crowd rose to acknowledge the retiring Sam Stosur, who lost in the first round of the women’s doubles with Alize Cornet.

The 38-year-old major winner still has the mixed doubles to come, where she will partner Matt Ebden.(Reuters /NAN)