Palermo, Italy, 21 July 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Palermo, Italy

Australian Astra Sharma was forced to fight hard today to earn her place in the second round at a WTA 250 clay-court tournament in Palermo.

In a match finishing at midnight local time, the Australian dug deep to record a 6-4 1-6 6-3 victory against Italian wildcard Lucrezia Stefanini.

The 23-year-old Stefanini, who is ranked No.252, refused to be overwhelmed by Sharma’s aggressive game – but the 25-year-old Australian’s experience proving telling in the closing stages of the two-hour and four-minute battle.

Serving for the match at 5-3, world No.121-ranked Sharma recovered from a 15-40 deficit to reel off four consecutive points to secure victory.

“She really made me work for it. She was really smart with how she was playing, so I really had to think out there and adapt,” Sharma said.

“She was doing a really good job of making me uncomfortable.”

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska scored a straight-sets win against Australia’s Lizette Cabrera in their first-round clash.

Only two ranking places separated the pair – 21-year-old Zavatska at world No.144 and 23-year-old Cabrera at world No.146 – however, strong returning gave the Ukrainain the upper hand in the 79-minute match.

Zavatska earned 12 break point opportunities and converted six of them, and won 72 per cent of points on Cabrera’s second serve.

Aussies in action – Palermo

Women’s singles, first round
[7] Astra Sharma (AUS)
d [WC] Lucrezia Stefanini (ITA) 6-4 1-6 6-3 
Katarina Zavatska (UKR) d Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 6-2 6-3

Women’s singles, second round
Maddison Inglis (AUS) v [1] Danielle Collins (USA)
[7] Astra Sharma (AUS) v Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS)

Women’s doubles, first round
[3] Astra Sharma (AUS)/Vivian Heisen (GER) v Natela Dzalamidze (RUS)/Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS)
Maddison Inglis (AUS)/Samantha Murray Sharan (GBR) v Olga Danilovic (SRB)/Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU)

Gstaad, Switzerland

Marc Polmans is the sole Australian competing at an ATP 250 tournament in Gstaad this week.

The 24-year-old is through to the second round in singles, where he’ll face world No.19 Cristian Garin. It is a rematch of a Wimbledon second-round battle, which Garin won in four tight sets.

Aussies in action – Gstaad

Men’s singles, second round
Marc Polmans (AUS) 
v [4] Cristian Garin (CHI)