American Bethanie Mattek-Sands advanced to the second round of qualifying for Australian Open 2010 on Thursday, knocking out Julia Vakulenko of the Ukraine 2-6 6-3 6-4.
The colourful Mattek-Sands, as well known for her array of tennis outfits as she is for her on-court exploits, looked to be in trouble in the opening set as Vakulenko snatched a double break and raced to a 4-1 lead. The American struggled with her serve and was regularly distracted by the wind, which affected her ball toss.
The 26-year-old Ukrainian romped through the set in 27 minutes, sealing it with a forehand winner.
Mattek-Sands, sporting white knee-high socks, overcame her poor start in the second set. The 24-year-old clawed her way back into the match, winning the first three games.
Vakulenko did not back down, breaking Mattek-Sands’ serve in the seventh game, but immediately relinquished her advantage as the American quickly broke back. Mattek-Sands claimed the set with a deep forehand winner after 33 minutes, sending the match into a decider.
The final set was a tightly-contested battle, with both players having their chances. Vakulenko’s first double fault for the match set up a break point for Mattek-Sands, but after snatching the break at 4-3, the American called for a trainer and received treatment on her right hand. Returning on court after a five-minute injury time-out, the American looked to quickly wrap up the match, and saved three break points in the 10th and final game of the set before sealing the match with a cross-court forehand winner.
Mattek-Sands will play 13th-seeded Canadian Sharon Fichman in the next round. Fichman defeated Severine Beltrame of France 6-2 6-4 on Thursday.