By Jaclyn Stacey
( January 19, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Fourteenth seed Maria Kirilenko triumphed in a tight encounter against Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 7-6(4), 6-3 on Super Saturday at the Australian Open and progressed into the round of 16 where she will play Serena Williams.
It was a bizarre start to the morning as Kirilenko was asked to remove her visor because it featured two brands on it. The visor had both the Adidas and Stella McCartney logos featured. She obliged and switched to a headband she had handy in her bag.
The twentieth seed Wickmayer lead 2-0 in the first set before the Russian was able to figure out her opponent’s tricky groundstrokes and break immediately back to level. The set then remained on serve, forcing a tie-break situation which Kirilenko edged out 7-6(4) to claim the first set.
The two swapped breaks early on in the second set until Kirilenko managed to hold serve in the fifth game. From there she dominated the match, breaking Wickmayer again and closing out the match 7-6(4) 6-3.
The statistics showed just how close the encounter was, Wickmayer actually creating more winners with 28 compared to 21 from Kirilenko, but also committing more errors than her Russian opponent.
Kirilenko was happy after the match and flashed the engagement ring from her NHL star fiancé Alex Ovechkin for the crowd.
She will face Serena Williams in the fourth round on Monday. The American goes into the match with a 5-0 head-to-head over the fourteenth seed. Kirilenko was in good humor when asked what she needs to do to beat Williams.
“Play over the net, everything done on the lines, every time serve aces and return winners and then I’m going to win this match.”
And more seriously she said, “I’m going to have a rest day tomorrow and I’m going to practice and concentrate on the things I need. It’s going to be good fun for me.”
“It’s gonna be of course a difficult match for hopefully for both of us and she is on fire now, she is winning everything and it’s tough to say with this kind of match. I’m playing well as well so we’ll see.”
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.