Australia’s Kimberly Birrell Upsets Kasatkina on Court 1
Kimberly Birrell produced a fearless performance to cause the biggest upset of Day 1 at the Brisbane International, when she knocked out World No.10 Daria Kasatkina of Russia 7-5 4-6 6-7 in a dramatic three-hour epic.
Birrell, the 20-year-old Australian who had to undergo the rigorous Australian Open Wildcard play-off a fortnight ago to qualify into the main draw of the 2019 Australian Open, was granted a wildcard into the Brisbane International, and recorded just her second main draw win of her embryonic tennis career, two years from her first main draw win.
For Kasatkina, this was another lackluster display, failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the final set–and Birrell, being cheered by vociferous home crowd, found a way to level the match. The Australian also had the opportunity to serve or the match at 5-6, but Kasatkina quickly restored parity to take the match into a third set tiebreak.
In the ensuing tiebreak, it was the younger Australian who was in the ascendancy throughout, often deploying her precise backhand down the line shots that left Kasatkina motionless. She dropped her racket in disbelief when Kasatkina fired long on match-point.
‘’I can’t believe what just happened, I mean I beat a top 10 player,’’ said an emotional Birrell in her post match interview in front of a jam-packed crown on Court 1. The win was also her first against a top 10 player. In fact, she had not beaten a top 50 player prior to today.
Wins for Lesia Tsurenko, Destanee Aiava, and Karolina Pliskova
Kimberly Birrrell’s surprise win over Kasatkina has earned her a meeting in the second round of the Brisbane International against Lesia Tsurenko. The Ukrainian easily dispatched Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-0 6-2.
Buzarnescu, who is still feeling the effects of her ankle injury suffered in Canada, won just 29% of second serve points. Tsurenko was clinical, breaking serve five times to win her first match of the season. Her meeting against Birrell will be the most interesting second round match to look forward to on Day 2.
Elsewhere on Court 2, France’s Kristina Mladenovic suffered an expected defeat to another Australian Destanee Aiava. The 18-year-old Aiava held her serve throughout the match, and broke Mladenovic once to win the first set. The second set had no service breaks, and it was Aiava who established her dominance in the tiebreak winning 7-2. She will play Naomi Osaka, the reigning US Open champion, in the next round.
Karolina Pliskova picked her first win of the new season in a tough tussle against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putinstseva. The World No.8 came from a set down to win 6-4 3-6 4-6.
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