WTA Auckland: Quarterfinals set as Williams sisters exit the tournament

The top seeds were all in action of the Auckland Open on Wednesday, but there was a big upset which saw Serena Williams being defeated in three sets. Also, her sister Venus Williams was forced to withdraw from her second round match against Naomi Osaka due to her right arm injury. Nevertheless, third and fourth seeds Caroline Wozniacki and Barbora Strycova progressed to the quarterfinals. The field for the quarterfinal was also decided after three days of thrilling tennis, with four seeded players exiting the tournament already.

Brengle seals huge upset

Madison Brengle earned a big upset over 22-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in three sets, with the 35-year-old mainly struggling with the wind. Coming down from a 4-1 lead in the first set, Brengle came up with an incredible run, winning five straight games to take the first set 6-4 and be halfway from an upset. The second set was very tight as both players were unable to get a breakthrough in their return games, with Williams unable to convert her break point opportunities. However, Brengle soon went up by a set and a break to put herself in a good position to seal the upset. Nevertheless, the experience of Williams allowed her to break straight back, and level the match once again. Missing a few set points on the Brengle serve, the set was eventually taken to a tiebreak to decide the winner. The younger of the Williams sisters comfortably won the tiebreak 7-3, bringing the match into a deciding set. Brengle won a nervy service game to start the final set with, saving a break point in the process. It was a string of comfortable holds by both players as none of them earned break points in any return games. Unexpectedly, it was Brengle who made the first breakthrough, going up 40-15 in Williams’ service game at 5-4, earning match point opportunities. After Williams saved the match points, she crumbled to the pressure on the third match point, serving a double fault to end the upset with.

Brengle reacts after winning the match | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Brengle reacts after winning the match | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac

Venus Williams gets through in straight sets

Venus Williams got to a perfect start to her Auckland campaign with straight sets win over native wildcard Jade Lewis, before withdrawing from the tournament with a right arm injury. An abundance of service breaks saw the set being extended to a tiebreak, with Williams holding her nerves to save a set point, whereas Lewis saw nerves get to her as she failed to serve out the set twice in the first set. A comfortable tiebreak then saw Williams win the first set, and forced the New Zealander’s confidence to be attacked, as the American soon went up 5-0 in the second set. Although Lewis put up a tough fight at the end of the match, Williams successfully served out the match soon later.

Venus Williams in her match today | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Venus Williams in her match today | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Wozniacki strolls to comfortable victory

After a nervy start to the match which saw an exchange of service breaks, Wozniacki made the next breakthrough at 3-2 when she broke Varvara Lepchenko’s serve once again to put herself in an advantageous position to take the first set. The Dane did just that, sealing up the first set after missing a break point in the previous game. The second set saw Wozniacki falling behind to an early break once again, with Lepchenko taking the lead. However, similar to the first set, the American’s celebrations were short-lived as she was broken to love immediately in the next game. With the momentum running in her, Wozniacki broke serve once more at 2-2 to have the lead of a set and a break. Despite getting broken while serving for the match, the former world number one earned a fourth consecutive break of service as she broke Lepchenko’s serve once again to end the match with. Wozniacki would now face a tricky opponent in Julia Goerges in the quarterfinals, and the affair could be a tight one.

Strycova powers through Safarova

Barbora Strycova endured a tough three-set battle against fellow Czech and good friend Lucie Safarova, with a final set tiebreak deciding the proceedings in the end. It was a tight first set as both players were very solid on their serves and the first break of the match occurred all the way at the end of the first set when Strycova broke to win the first set. However, Safarova bounced back from the loss with a 4-0 lead in the second set within a blink of an eye, before Strycova got back one of the breaks back soon after. Nevertheless, Safarova broke once again for the second set, leveling the match at one set all. Strycova looked the favorite for the match when she made the first service break of the final set, but Safarova broke back three games after to return back on serve and give her a real chance of an upset. The fans were then treated to a thrilling end to the match as it was brought into a final set tiebreak to decide the winner of the tight match, and Strycova made a comeback from 0-2 down to lead 5-2, and look closer to a victory. Strycova finally closed out the hard-fought match with a wonderful volley winner that was unreachable by Safarova, which was followed by a friendly hug at the net.

Strycova hitting a backhand | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Strycova hitting a backhand | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac

Goerges, Konjuh wins two matches in a day

Julia Goerges got her 2017 to a perfect start after she upset sixth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a tight first round match, which was delayed from yesterday due to a rain delay. With one break apiece in each set deciding the proceedings, it was definitely a tight match with both players looking solid in their service games. It was a disappointing loss for Pavlyuchenkova, who failed to convert at the crucial moments as she lost all six of her break points.

Goerges then proceeded to claim an excellent victory over Naomi Broady in the second round match later in the day, as the German was once again involved in a tight match, another match which both sets were won by just two games. Naomi Broady has previously beaten Danka Kovinic in the first round, making a comeback in the second set by winning six games in a row to come from 0-3 down to seal the match. 

Goerges hitting a volley | Photo:  Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Goerges hitting a volley | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Ana Konjuh was the other player who won two matches today, as she defeated Kirsten Flipkens in three sets, having trailed in the second set before rain halted play yesterday. The loss of the second set did not seem to bother Konjuh much as she prevailed in a tough final set, which saw only one break which decided the outcome of the match after Flipkens lost her service game while serving at 4-3, giving the Croatian the chance to serve out the match. She did just so, serving out the match to love to move into the second round.

Konjuh then put in an excellent performance in the second round, outclassing Yanina Wickmayer in just 58 minutes. Konjuh had a near-perfect match as she broke serve for five times without losing her serve for a single time in the whole match. Konjuh would now face another rising star in Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals.

Konjuh hitting a forehand | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Konjuh hitting a forehand | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Other results

Lauren Davis defeated Kurumi Nara in a straight sets victory with a symmetrical scoreline, 6-3 6-3 to enter the quarterfinals and would face fourth seed Barbora Strycova there.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni lost her second round match against Jelena Ostapenko in another straight sets match, despite a tough second set that ended in a tiebreak.

Doubles Action

There were seven doubles matches played on the third day of action here in Auckland, but the notable match being missed out is the match between Barbora Strycova/Lucie Safarova and Annika Beck/Julia Goerges, as Beck withdrew from the match due to a viral illness. 

There was a big upset in the bottom half of the draw, with the second seeds Chan sisters (Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching) losing to unseeded Kirsten Flipkens and Jelena Ostapenko in three sets, leaving the draw wide open.

Third seeds Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson got through a tough straight sets battle against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Yanina Wickmayer, despite the unseeded pairing having a lead in both of the sets.

Fourth seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Zhaoxuan Yang defeated a tough opponent in Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith, coming down from an early break to prevail in the tight first set before strolling to a comfortable second set victory.

The only three-set doubles match was between Tatjana Maria/Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs/Renata Voracova, with Maria and Melichar losing in a tight match. Something worth noting is that Melichar is also the coach of Madison Brengle, and was giving some humorous on-court coaching sessions with Brengle, who created a big upset over Serena Williams, just right after her doubles match!

The other results are Shuko Aoyama/Makoto Ninomiya defeating wildcards Jade Lewis/Erin Routliffe, Alicja Rosolska/Taylor Townsend losing to Marina Erakovic/Heather Watson in straight sets, and Maria Irigoyen/Ipek Soylu defeating Miyu Kato/Arina Rodionova also in straight sets.