The top two seeds at the Yarra Valley Classic were tested by their respective opponents on Wednesday in Melbourne, but prevailed in deciding sets to reach the quarterfinals.
A day after returning for her first singles match in nearly a year, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty found a stiffer challenge in Marie Bouzkova. In the third set, Barty twice relinquished her advantage, but after erasing a break point at 3-3, 30-40, pulled away from the Czech to advance, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, after one hour and 56 minutes. The No. 1 seed ended her day with 41 winners to 32 unforced errors.
The woman who beat Barty in last year’s Australian Open semifinals on her way to the title, Sofia Kenin, found herself in a trickier situation. Facing countrywoman Jessica Pegula, the 21-year-old trailed 5-7, 1-4, before navigating her way back into the contest. By the time she grabbed her first lead of the day at 1-0 in the third, Kenin powered ahead to finish off a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 win. She’ll look to clean up 10 double faults when she returns to action Thursday.
“It's funny. At 5-2 in the third set, I start[ed] making double-faults. That's the one thing I stopped doing in the second set, I was making more first serves,” the American told press. “I was like, ‘This cannot happen right now. I want to close it out, leave and be done.’ I'm happy I was able to close it out.”
Serena Williams was due to face Tsvetana Pironkova later in a 2020 US Open quarterfinal rematch, won by Serena in three sets.