All the top 10 seeded women in this year's Australian Open have made their way into the third round with no major ousters on Thursday. Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina were the big names that eased past their second round opponents.
Wimbledon champion Halep has beat British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round.
Halep ended 2019 ranked fourth, her sixth consecutive year-end top five finish. She will next play either Danielle Collins or Yulia Putintseva.
It was a difficult start to the day with showers and with outdoor courts that needed to be washed with high-pressure hoses because of overnight rain combined with a dust storm to the northwest of the city. The weather improved and organizers were getting through the bulk of singles matches, although 13 doubles matches had to be postponed.
PLISKOVA'S STRONG RUN CONTINUES
Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova continued her strong recent form at the Australian Open by advancing to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Laura Siegemund.
“I'm happy to get through — this was an ugly match for me,” she said.
Last year at Melbourne Park, Pliskova lost to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the semifinals after saving four match points to beat Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.
The rain at Melbourne Park has abated and play is underway on about half the outdoor courts after they had to be washed down due to an overnight dust storm.
KERBER EASES INTO ROUND 3
Angelique Kerber is through to the third round after beating Australian wild-card entry Priscilla Hon 6-3, 6-2.
At Melbourne Park in 2016, Kerber became the first German woman since Steffi Graf in 1999 to win a Grand Slam singles title. She won the U.S. Open later that year and Wimbledon in 2018.
Kerber will next play either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Camila Giorgi.
MUGURUZA WINS AFTER RAIN DELAY
Rain and an overnight dust storm from the northwest of Melbourne is playing havoc with the Australian Open schedule.
First heavy morning showers delayed play on all outside courts. That combined with an earlier dust storm left a layer of red on some outside courts, making them unplayable in the morning.
Melbourne Park staff used high-pressure hoses to clean court surfaces before light rain showers began falling in the early afternoon, forcing officials to close the roofs at the three main arenas. The rain became heavier later, and suspended play in the only two matches that had started on outside courts.
In the first completed match at Rod Laver Arena, two-time Grand Slam singles champion Garbine Muguruza beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
SVITOLINA ENSURES TOP 10 DOMINATION
All of the top 10 seeded women have reached the third round at the Australian Open for the first time since 2007.
It's the first time it's happened at any Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon in 2009.
No. 5 Elina Svitolina closed out Day 4 — and the second round of singles action — with a 6-2, 7-6 (6) win over Lauren Davis of the U.S.
The match ended at 12:45 a.m.
Said Svitolina, who reached a pair of Grand Slam semifinals last season: “Happy I could finish in two sets and we can all go to bed now.”
COLLINS BOWS OUT
Danielle Collins is out of the Australian Open in the second round a year after making her Grand Slam breakthrough with a run to the semifinals at Melbourne Park.
The 26th-seeded American bowed out Thursday with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 loss to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
Collins had never won a match in five tries at Grand Slam tournaments until her surge to the final four in Australia in 2019. She won five matches in a row to get that far, including upsets of three seeded opponents.
BELLIS RETURNS WITH A BANG
It's been two full years since CiCi Bellis was healthy enough to participate in a Grand Slam tournament.
And now, four arm operations later, the 20-year-old Californian is back — and has beaten a seeded opponent to reach the Australian Open's third round.
Bellis eliminated No. 20 Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday.
Bellis was a teen prodigy, winning a U.S. Open match at age 15 and reaching No. 35 in the rankings at 17. All the time away from the tour because of injuries has her at No. 600 right now, but she was able to get into the draw at Melbourne Park via the protected ranking rule.