Kalinina romps into Miami Open third round, beating Wozniacki in a thriller

Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina averted a match point and rallied from a set down to defeat former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in a grueling three-set battle. Kalinina appeared to be on her way out after trailing 2-5 in the second set, but with nothing to lose, she came out swinging her racket to break the Dane and serve for the match.

The danger was far from over for the Ukrainian, who faced match point on her own serve but survived with a courageous forehand winner to reduce the lead to 5-4. Kalinina won five consecutive games to take the second set. Kalinina, 27, heaped on the pressure in the third set, leading 5-3. The Dane would not go down without a fight, as she survived three match points for the hold, leaving Kalinina to serve out the match. Kalinina would need four match points to complete her comeback, securing victory with her third ace of the match.

Wozniacki, who won the Australian Open in 2018 and retired from tennis at the same tournament two years later, returned to the sport last year. Wozniacki advanced to the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells tournament this month, but she retired in the second set against top-ranked Swiatek due to a right foot injury.

Kalinina will face either world number two Aryna Sabalenka or Paula Badosa next. All eyes will be on the Hard Rock Stadium court on Friday when Sabalenka plays for the first time since learning on Monday that her former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov had passed away. The former professional ice hockey player’s death shook the Miami Open, with players gathering to support Sabalenka. To add to the intrigue of the second-round match, Sabalenka will face Badosa, one of her best pals on the Tour.

In other second-round action, Maria Sakkari returned to winning ways just days after losing the Indian Wells final, securing a dominant 6-2, 6-2 straight-set win over China’s Yue Yuan on Thursday to go to the third round of the Miami Open. After losing 6-4, 6-0 to world number one Iga Swiatek in Sunday’s final in California, the eighth-seeded Greek player was all business after failing at the first hurdle in her last two visits to Miami.

Yue, who won her first WTA Tour championship in Austin last month and advanced to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, faced Sakkari with a potentially difficult opening challenge. However, the 28-year-old passed with flying colors, breaking her Chinese opponent five times during the 79-minute masterclass.