Top-ranked Barty saves match point in Miami win, Halep rallies - GulfToday

Top-ranked Barty saves match point in Miami win, Halep rallies

Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty serves to Kristina Kucova during their second round match of the 2021 Miami Open in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Thursday. Agence France-Presse

Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty saved a match point as she battled back to defeat Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova on Thursday and reach the third round of the ATP and WTA Miami Open.

Top-seeded Barty, the 2019 Miami champion and French Open winner, dispatched 149th-ranked Kucova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, advancing to a match with another Grand Slam winner, Latvia’s 54th-ranked Jelena Ostapenko who beat Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

Barty fired 15 aces, two in a rally from 0-40 down in the final game, to defeat Kucova after two hours and 27 minutes.

“Mentally you need to stay there to give yourself a chance,” Barty said. “I was proud I was able to hang in there when mentally I could have gotten a little loose.”

Only Japan’s second-ranked Naomi Osaka can overtake Barty for the world number one spot at Miami.

Third-seeded Simona Halep struggled early but stormed home for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over France’s Caroline Garcia.

The two-time Grand Slam champion from Romania, ranked third in the world, was playing her first match since a quarter-final loss to Serena Williams at the Australian Open.

SWIATEK, KERBER UP: In other women’s second-round action, reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek beat Barbora Krejcikova 6-4, 6-2, and former world number one Angelique Kerber of Germany steamrolled qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-0, 6-0.

Kerber next faces another former world No. 1 in Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka advanced by walkover after a knee injury forced Laura Siegemund to pull out of their scheduled match.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who received a first round bye, launched her Miami campaign in the second round with a solid win over her Chinese opponent Xinyu Wang in two sets 6-4, 6-1.

Joining Muguruza in the third round was Elise Mertens, who beat WTA-ranked 319 Briton Katie Boulter.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Korda only dropped three games against Radu Albot on Thursday to win his debut match at the Miami Open presented by Itau in emphatic style.

After fighting through a tight opening set, Korda was nearly untouchable in the second against the Moldovan, who is ranked 10 spots higher at No. 77 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Korda broke the Albot serve four times and fired 24 winners on his way to a 6-3, 6-0 victory.

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