Dellacqua joins Serena in fourth round
Originally published on 17/01/14
Spurred on by home support on Rod Laver Arena, the Australian wildcard defeated Zheng Jie 6-2 6-4. In reaching the last 16, the 28-year-old left-hander, who reached the final of women’s doubles at her home Slam last year with teenager Ashleigh Barty, matched her best singles performance at a major, when she reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2008.
With temperatures in Melbourne reaching over 40°C this week, Dellacqua showed no signs of fatigue as she raced through the opening set and broke early in the second. Zheng did break back and even took the lead, but struggled with the heat as Dellacqua recovered to wrap up victory and reach the fourth round for the loss of just 13 games in her opening three matches.
The world No.120, who upset No.18 seed Kirsten Flipkens in the second round, will now meet 30th seed Eugenie Bouchard after the Canadian defeated Lauren Davis 6-2 6-2.
“I felt great,’ Dellacqua said. When I saw her laying down, I thought, okay, she’s struggling, this is good. I love the heat. It makes my body feel good, too. I really enjoyed it out there. It would be nice if it would be a bit hotter for the next week.”
“I look forward to another opportunity, another challenge,” she added. “I know it will be tough against Eugenie. Hopefully the work I’ve put in, the matches I’ve played, the way I’m hitting the ball, would put me in good stead.”
Whether Dellacqua or Bouchard wins their fourth-round contest, they are likely to face top seed Serena Williams in the quarter-final. Williams, who is bidding to win a sixth Australian Open title, moved into the fourth round with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.
First, though, Williams will have to navigate her way past former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic, who held her nerve to defeat home favourite Sam Stosur 6-7(8) 6-4 6-2. Stosur converted her seventh set point to take an intriguing first set after a brief rain delay in the tiebreak, but Ivanovic bounced back to reach the fourth round.
"I thought we both played very well," said Stosur. "Ana came out swinging. I thought she returned great tonight. I felt like I had to hit very good serves and really hit my spots to make it that I was going to be on top of the point. Then the last couple of games where she broke me she played unbelievable."
Li Na scraped into the fourth round as she saved match point to battle past Lucie Safarova 1-6 7-6(2) 6-3. Serving for the match, Safarova’s backhand on match point bounced out, and Li rallied to reach the fourth round, where she will face Ekaterina Makarova, a 6-4 6-4 winner against Monica Niculescu.
"I think the five centimeters saved my tournament. If she hit in, I think my whole team [would be] on the way to the airport," admitted Li. “After I lost the first set pretty quickly, I thought, okay if you continue like this you are going home. So I had to change something on the court very quickly.”
Meanwhile, No.9 seed Angelique Kerber defeated Alison Riske 6-3 6-4 and will meet Flavia Pennetta, a 6-1 7-5 winner over Mona Barthel, for a place in the quarter-finals.