Withdrawals and upsets broke the draw wide open at the Brisbane International on day four. Top seed Simona Halep was supposed to make her season debut on Wednesday, but was forced out with an injury. Another top seed was forced out with an injury on Wednesday. It was a crazy day down under. Let’s take a look.
With Halep and Sharapova withdrawing, Garbine Muguruza was suddenly the heavy favorite to go all the way. But things did not seem right as her match with Varvara Lepchenko got underway. Muguruza was clearly struggling with some sort of lower body injury and it was visibly affecting her play. Muguruza hit twenty-seven unforced errors in dropping the opening set in a tiebreak. The Spaniard played one more game before retiring in the second game of the second set. Apparently, Muguruza was struggling with a foot injury. With her withdrawal, the top three seeds have all been forced out of Brisbane with injuries.
With Muguruza’s retirement, Angelique Kerber is now the highest ranked player left in the draw. She avoided the mass exodus on Wednesday by cruising past Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-0. Kerber broke Brengle six times, while only allowing one break against her own serve. The German also won more than fifty percent of points on her American opponents serve. It only took Kerber one hour to reach the quarter-finals.
Victoria Azarenka was expecting a blockbuster clash with Halep in the second round, but instead found herself up against lucky loser Ysaline Bonaventure. The two-time Australian Open got off to slow start, getting broken in her first service game, but got her act together and cruised into the quarterfinals with a straight sets victory. Azarenka was dominant on her first serve, only losing four points in the entire match. Her second serve was a little more questionable, only winning fifty-percent of those points throwing in eight double faults. But she broke Bonaventure four times, saving four of the five break points she faced. With the rest of the draw falling apart around her, Azarenka is now one of the favourites to claim the title.
The bad run for the Swiss seeds continued on Wednesday as Belinda Bencic, the seventh seed, was upset by 142nd ranked Samantha Crawford of the United States. Crawford blasted thirteen aces past the 18-year-old Swiss and grabbed a pair of late breaks in both sets to send Bencic packing. Crawford saved six of the seven break points she faced and won sixty-one percent of points on Bencic’s second serve. The 20-year-old Crawford’s victory was her first over a top-fifty opponent. Bencic is the second Swiss seed to lose early in Brisbane after Timea Bacsinszky was upset on day one.
The quarterfinal field is rounded out by Andrea Petkovic, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-4. The German broke Makarova four times, while limiting her Russian opponent to only two.
The quarterfinals will get underway tomorrow with only three of the seeds left standing.