x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Baltacha hoping for third time lucky

The British No 1 will face the former world No 1 Dinara Safina after beating Kateryna Bondarenko to reach a grand slam third round for the third time.

Elena Baltacha faces a difficult match against the No 2 seed Dinara Safina.
Elena Baltacha faces a difficult match against the No 2 seed Dinara Safina.

The British No 1 Elena Baltacha upset 30th seed Kateryna Bondarenko at the Australian Open to ensure she would at least match her best-ever result at a grand slam. Baltacha defied a rankings difference of over 50 places to win the second-round match 6-2 7-5 in one hour and 34 minutes. The 26-year-old's gutsy win means she will play in the third round of a grand slam for just the third time in her career after advancing to the last 32 at Melbourne Park in 2005 and at Wimbledon in 2002. It was also just the fourth win of her career against a top-50 rival and after reaching a career-high ranking of 83 earlier this month - which earned her direct entry to a grand slam for the first time - her victory was earned on the back of 35 winners. Baltacha started confidently as she broke Bondarenko's opening two service games to jump 3-0 ahead in the first set. Bondarenko fought back to 3-2, but with her serve misfiring Baltacha was again able to string a run of three games together to win the first set in 35 minutes. Bondarenko did not win a single point on her second serve in the first set as the Briton's aggression, especially off her forehand, paid dividends. The second set was a see-sawing battle with Bondarenko racing 3-0 ahead on the back of some more consistent serving. But again Baltacha, who beat Bondarenko's sister Alona to reach the second round at Wimbledon last year, was again able to put a run of games together. The Briton won the next four, fending off three break points along the way, to steal the initiative and leave Bondarenko covering her face with her towel at the change of ends. And while Bondarenko broke again Baltacha got her chance to serve for the match at 6-5 and did not waste the chance with the 23-year-old Ukrainian conceding the match when she hit a forehand long. Baltacha will now face the former world No 1 Dinara Safina. The Russian overcame a minor stumble when serving for the match before advancing to the third round with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. The second-ranked player controlled the match from the onset against the 67th ranked Czech, although she was forced to stave off four break points in the final game. Last year's beaten finalist at Melbourne Park was 0-40 down in the 10th game of the second set but recovered to seal victory in 93 minutes when a strong serve down the middle forced Zahlavov Strycova to hook her return well wide. Meanwhile, the eighth seed Jelena Jankovic ended Baltacha's compatriot Katie O'Brien's Australian Open campaign in straight sets. The 23-year-old won through to the second round of a major for just the second time in her career when she defeated Patricia Mayr yesterday, but could not go a step further as she lost 6-2 6-2. * With agencies

Second round * 27-Alisa Kleybanova (Russia) beat Sorana Cirstea (Romania) 6-4 6-3 * 2-Dinara Safina (Russia) beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-4 * 31-Alona Bondarenko (Ukraine) beat Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 6-4 7-5 * Angelique Kerber (Germany) beat 26-Aravane Rezai (France) 6-2 6-3 Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) beat 12-Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 7-6(2) 6-1 19-Nadia Petrova (Russia) beat Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) 6-4 6-4 Zheng Jie (China) beat 24-Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Spain) 2-6 6-2 6-3 11-Marion Bartoli (France) beat Sandra Zahlavova (Czech Republic) 6-4 6-4 15-Kim Clijsters (Belgium) beat Tamarine Tanasugarn (Thailand) 6-3 6-3 Elena Baltacha (Britain) beat 30-Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukraine) 6-2 7-5 3-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 6-2 6-2 First round Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) beat Melinda Czink (Hungary) 7-5 6-7(5) 9-7 22-Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) beat Viktoriya Kutuzova (Ukraine) 3-6 6-1 7-5 29-Shahar Peer (Israel) beat Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) 6-7(5) 6-2 6-1 Sofia Arvidsson (Sweden) beat Jarmila Groth (Australia) 6-2 4-6 6-4 Tathiana Garbin (Italy) beat 28-Elena Vesnina (Russia) 7-6(5) 6-4 Julia Goerges (Germany) beat Tamira Paszek (Austria) 6-0 3-6 6-3 Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria) beat Galina Voskoboeva (Kazakhstan) 6-4 6-4 4-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) 6-4 6-2 Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) beat Kimiko Date Krumm (Japan) 6-4 6-2 Iveta Benesova (Czech Republic) beat Chang Kai-Chen (Taiwan) 7-5 6-2 Agnes Szavay (Hungary) beat Stephanie Dubois (Canada) 6-3 6-2 7-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) beat Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (France) 6-2 6-0 9-Vera Zvonareva (Russia) beat Kristina Kucova (Slovakia) 6-2 6-0 16-Li Na (China) beat Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-2 6-0

* Reuters