Ekaterina Alexandrova, in Red Hot Form, Seeks First Major Second Week

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Ekaterina Alexandrova has never made the second week at a Major before. But, a second set hiccup notwithstanding, she will have as good of a chance as ever to check off that feat at the 2020 Australian Open.

Currently sitting at a career high of World No. 26, Alexandrova fought hard to take out Jil Teichmann 6-4 4-6 6-2 in the first round. This is Alexandrova’s 11th win in a row at the WTA 125k-level and higher. However, Teichmann didn’t make it easy.

It was a topsy-turvy first set, with Alexandrova getting broken twice, but breaking three times. The second set saw similar struggles on serve for Alexandrova, with four breaks against her serve. Getting broken that many times over the course of two sets was not a good sign for the Russian.

However, the third set saw Alexandrova only facing one break point, which she saved. Breaking in the first game of the third set, and then holding fairly comfortably, gave Alexandrova the peace of mind needed after a turbulent second. She was able to get the double break and then easily win the third set 6-2. It was yet another win to add to the streak.

Alexandrova in 2019

Alexandrova had a fantastic 2019 season, but her current winning streak started in the December WTA Limoges 125k. She only lost one set in Limoges, in the first round, before winning the next nine sets to take the title. Alexandrova’s run included solid victories over Nicole Gibbs in the semifinals and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final. The Russian only lost four games in that final.

Alexandrova’s good form continued into January. At the WTA International tournament in Shenzhen, Alexandrova, again, only lost one set the entire tournament. She comfortably beat Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals and Elena Rybakina in the final. The win over Rybakina was more impressive considering that Rybakina won Hobart the following week. While Alexandrova’s serve was not very effective in that match, she was able to break the Rybakina serve six times.

Shenzhen marked the first WTA title for Alexandrova above the 125k-level. It was a momentous occasion for the Russian, who’s only previous final at this level was a beatdown by Camila Giorgi in the 2018 Linz tournament.

Alexandrova’s game is largely based on power. Alexandrova has a pretty good serve and looks to step up in the court and pummel groundstrokes. Alexandrova tries to stay at, or in front, of the baseline and take away as much of her opponent’s time as possible. So, when she’s confident and in-form, it can be extremely tough to stop her.

While Alexandrova improved her best major result last season when she made the third round of the French Open, she has still never reached the second week of a Grand Slam.

Alexandrova’s Australian Open path

It won’t be easy for the 25th seed Alexandrova, but her path has been made by the early exit of the huge-hitting Kaia Kanepi, who was a potential second-round opponent. She will instead face the relatively unheralded Barbora Krejcikova, ranked 13th in doubles but 128th in singles. However, a potential showdown against 7th seed Petra Kvitova, who made a superb start to her Australian Open campaign with a 6-1 6-0 win over Siniakova, would be a tall order.

But Alexandrova has played some great tennis over the past 12 months and she may feel she has a chance up against the Czech. And if she can get through the first-week barrier for the first time, who knows how far she can go?

It won’t be a match that jumps off the page, but this was an important win for Ekaterina Alexandrova. She had done so much good recently at the WTA level, but the slams are another animal. With the difference in points and prize money, slams have an added element of pressure associated with them.

And, for a player like Alexandrova, who doesn’t have a ton of margin in her game, she has to be cautious that the extra pressure doesn’t cause her game to break down. Alexandrova could have cracked after the second set. It would have been easy for her to get down on herself, thought about her tight loss to Zhang Shuai at the US Open last year, and collapsed.

But, Alexandrova didn’t. She stood strong and crushed Teichmann in the third set, a message to the field that she was still a threat at this tournament. The second set was an aberration, not a new norm. However, with that said, the Russian did only serve three aces to seven double faults, winning only 36% of her second serves. For her to make the round of 16 at the Australian Open, Alexandrova will need to make sure she’s serving at the level she is capable of.

But, given all of the wins she has accumulated lately, can anyone doubt Ekaterina Alexandrova?

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