It says much about the current depth of women’s tennis that Veronika Kudermetova and Victoria Azarenka would meet in the Adelaide International 2 first round.
The 25-year-old Kudermetova is a recent top-10 debutante, achieved in her stunning 2022 season in which she claimed almost 40 match wins. Azarenka, 33, is a two-time Australian Open champion, who at world No.25, still thrives at the top of the game.
It was unsurprising then that the pair’s second career meeting on centre court in Adelaide would be a contest of superb quality, Azarenka taking a dominant early lead before Kudermetova fought back to claim a 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4 win.
“Of course, I’m really happy about this win because it means a lot against Vika,” said a delighted Kudermetova after securing her first-round victory in just under three hours.
“She’s a two-time Grand Slam champion (so) for me it’s really important to play against that (level of) player and beat them. (With) every win I have a little bit more confidence.”
Kudermetova’s mid-match transformation was helped by a polished serving display, the No.6 seed winning 53 of 73 first-serve points and firing 20 aces. She saved seven of 10 break points in the opening set but didn’t face another for the match.
As Azarenka battled against an increasingly confident opponent, she also fought against injury and was treated for an apparent neck complaint after the second set. But the determined veteran stayed impressively determined, Kudermetova’s decisive service break only secured in the ninth game of the third set.
After confidently serving out the victory, the world No.9 holds valuable momentum ahead of her second-round Adelaide International 2 meeting with Ekaterina Alexandrova.
“I think last season I improved on the court and off the court. I had a lot of really good wins,” Kudermetova said. “It gives me confidence and this season I think I started with more belief in myself and right now, I always know what I need to do on the court.”
Amanda Anisimova also progressed in Adelaide’s second 2023 edition, with the world No.29 American claiming a confidence- boosting win over the higher-ranked Liudmila Samsonova in the first round.
The 21-year-old Anisimova came through qualifying at the WTA 500 tournament, ultimately claiming her main draw entry as a lucky loser.
Anisimova, a semifinalist at 2019 Roland Garros and a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last season, made the most of her opportunity as she dismissed Samsonova 7-5 6-3 in 89 minutes.
The smooth progress was in stark contrast to last week’s performance in Adelaide, where Anisimova claimed only three games in a first-round loss to No.4 seed Veronika Kudermetova.
Chasing her first main-draw win on the WTA Tour since August last year, Anisimova was helped by an error-prone Samsonova, who tallied seven double faults and was broken five times throughout the encounter.
Anisimova next faces Beatriz Haddad Maia, who overcame Sorana Cirstea on Monday.
Zheng Qinwen, set a second-round contest with Petra Kvitova, after a come-from-behind win over Shelby Rogers.
The 20-year-old from China, currently ranked world No.28 on the WTA Tour, required two hours and 24 minutes to complete a 4-6 6-4 6-0 win.
Other women to progress on Day 2 of the Adelaide International were Katerina Siniakova, after Anastasia Potapova retired with injury, and Anna Kalinskaya, who eliminated Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.
Barboara Krejcikova, the 2021 Roland Garros champion, launched her Adelaide campaign with a 6-2 7-6(3) win over Alison Riske-Amritraj
A quality day of women’s tennis in Adelaide concluded with Paula Badosa, the tournament’s No.9 seed, claiming an efficient 6-4 6-3 victory over Anett Kontaveit, setting up a second-round encounter with Kaia Kanepi.