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Women's wrap: Vondrousova turns Ons off, Bencic bounces back

  • Alex Sharp

Women's singles second round

Marketa Vondrousova pulled off the headline shock on an incredibly dramatic day of second-round action at Melbourne Park.

MORE: All the scores from Day 4 at AO 2023

As a plethora of seeded stars tumbled on Thursday, the 2019 Roland-Garros finalist portrayed her major pedigree to outlast world No.2 Ons Jabeur 6-1 5-7 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

The Czech's piercing, flat strokes rattled trough the opening set in just 24 minutes and with just four unforced errors to her name. 

In response, second-seeded Jabeur canvassed the net, and at 4-1 a devious backhand drop shot signalled a change in fortunes. 

Vondrousova kept her archetypal composure, and the world No.86 had far too much pace and conviction in her striking to storm into the last 32 for the third consecutive time in Australia.

Vondrousova has typically performed well in Melbourne, and this year is no exception (Getty Images)

"She just got better in the second set, played some amazing points. I just tried to stay focused and play my game. I'm just very happy to be through," said Vondrousova, who has battled back from left wrist surgery in 2022.

"It's always tough to come back after such a long time. I just started again in November and I felt really good. I had great practices, I worked on my fitness a lot. I'm very happy to already be back at this level, to play these types of matches."

As reward for her maiden top-10 Grand Slam victory, Vondrousova advances to face her fellow Czech, teenage sensation Linda Fruhvirtova.

"She's a great player already, a young star," Vondrousova said. 

"We'll see, we've never played. I just can't wait to play again."

Elsewhere on Thursday, American qualifier Katie Volynets scored her first top-10 victory at the first attempt. The world No.113 dismissed world No.9 Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 2-6 6-2 to book a third-round ticket to face Zhang Shuai. 

MORE: AO 2023 women's singles draw

For consistency, look no further than Elise Mertens. The AO 2018 semifinalist has now reached the third round at 19 of her past 20 Grand Slams courtesy of a 6-4 6-3 passage past recent Hobart champion Lauren Davis. Mertens has earned a meeting with No.5 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Belinda Bencic remains undefeated in 2023 and continues to march towards the second week.

Last week's Adelaide 2 champion wrote "Happy Schwiiz" on the broadcast camera after taking down world No.62 Claire Liu 7-6(3) 6-3 for a milestone 50th major main draw triumph.

Bencic reeled in the American from 5-2 down in the opener en route to booking a third-round clash with Italian Camila Giorgi

"I'm super happy with today's win. I thought it was a very difficult match, I had to really fight. I thought my opponent played very well," said the world No.10.

"Anyone in the second round of a Grand Slam can play good tennis, so it's not easy to always go 'she's the higher ranked, she has to win.' It's always a new fight, you have to start from zero when you go to court. Next round starts from zero again."

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion, who posted her best Australian Open run back in 2016 when she made the fourth round, is adamant she has to adopt a tunnel-vision approach.

"It's really difficult for me to say, 'Okay, just because now I won Adelaide, I won a few matches in a row, now suddenly I have to win the Australian Open'," continued the 25-year-old.

"It's nice for everybody to say around, 'She's the favourite or she can be one of the favourites or she has a chance.'

"It's still every match is different. I experienced a lot of times I was feeling very good all the tournament, and suddenly comes the match and I don't know how to play tennis any more. I have to really focus on just what I have to do and just block out the noise outside."

Bencic is one win away from matching her best run in Melbourne (Getty Images)

Elsewhere, American wildcard Taylor Townsend pushed No.19 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova to the limit. However, the world No.20 prevailed 1-6 6-2 6-3 for a last 32 spot.

Alexandrova's third-round tussle will be up against Magda Linette, who conquered No.16 seed Anett Kontaveit 3-6 6-3 6-4.