Two women’s Top 10 seeds and four overall exited the park on Day 1 at the Australian Open, compared to a quiet opening day on the men’s side.
Thailand’s unheralded Luksika Kumkhum claimed the highest-ranked scalp of the day, downing No. 6 seed and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
“Really happy today that I doing good today, yeah,” said the Thai with the two-handed forehand in her halting English. “I just love hardcourt. I just put every match, I mean, like happy to play and, like, exciting every day. Yeah, just do my best. That’s it. Not a secret.”
Also exiting was No. 7-seeded Italian Sara Errani as former one-to-watch Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges of Germany found the range of her punishing groundstrokes with a 6-3, 6-2 win. Other upset-minded players were China’s Jie Zheng ousting No. 12 Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3, and American Alison Riske rousting No. 23 Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-2.
In other Top 10 action, world No. 1 Serena Williams dispatched Aussie teen Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-1; No. 4 seed Li Na punished Croat teen qualifier Ana Konjuh 6-2, 6-0; and No. 9 Angie Kerber avoided an upset with a 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 fight-back against Slovak-turned-Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova.
“My next match, I might stay at the baseline the whole time,” said Serena, who converted 10 of 11 points at the net, and next faces Vesna Dolonc. “It’s nothing I’m permanently working on. I’m just trying to have fun and do what I want to do out there.”
Lower seeds struggling into the second round in three sets were No. 22-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova subduing unseeded former No. 1 Venus Williams, No. 26 Lucie Safarova outlasting Israel’s Julia Glushko, and No. 31 Daniela Hantuchova defeating Brit Heather Watson.
“I think she played really well, and I think just my level was a little bit too up and down,” Venus said of Makarova. “I think obviously my error count was a little high. I haven’t looked at the stats yet, so I don’t know what the errors were or the first serve percentage was…I have to give her a lot of credit. She was really determined, and just kept playing hard.”
Teens to watch into the second round included Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic who outlasted veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm in three, and American Madison Keys who likewise needed three sets to defeat Austrian Patty Mayr-Achleitner.
“I tried not to like think about it, but it was different, yeah,” said Bencic on her first Grand Slam appearance. “I had really trouble to play [Date-Krumm] because she plays a very different game and very flat ball. I could do nothing with it.”
Bencic will next meet the No. 4-seeded Na.
On the men’s side it would have been 16 out of 16 seeds in action advancing into the second round, had not No. 12 Tommy Haas struggled against Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, eventually retiring from the match down 7-5, 5-2 due to a shoulder injury.
Top 10-seeded players in action Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Stan Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet all moved safely into the second round without dropping a set.
“Physically I feel great. I’m very motivated obviously to play my best,” said Djokovic who gave up a break in his opening set but won in straights. “I was trying to find the proper, I would say, setting and proper balance and footing in the court. It came at the right time, in the tiebreak in the second, and the whole third set was great. My service games, most of the games were won comfortably. I won many easy points with the first serves and had a high percentage of the first serves in. That’s something that makes me obviously very encouraged for this tournament and for every next match.”
Djokovic says his journey with new coach Boris Becker is off on the right foot.
“He has accepted my kind request to speak to me in German as much as he can because I would like to refresh my knowledge. I used to speak it,” said a light-hearted Djokovic. “He definitely has great observations on my game, on tennis in general. We do speak a lot about different things. We try to get to know each other as much as we can. And the understanding is great in the beginning. I did not expect ourselves to understand each other so well right away in the second or third week that we working are with each other.”
Seeds playing with fire were No. 17 Tommy Robredo outlasting Lukas Rosol 8-6 in the fifth, No. 19 Kevin Anderson coming from 0-2 sets down to defeat Czech Jiri Vesely, and No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz doing likewise against unheralded Australian Jordan Thompson.
Winners of note in all-unseeded match-ups were Denis Istomin over Marcos Baghdatis, Aussie Matthew Ebden outlasting Nicolas Mahut in five, Sam Querrey, Nikolay Davydenko over Lukasz Kubot in five, and last year’s French breakout player Adrian Mannarino defeating American Steve Johnson in five sets.
Tuesday’s matches to look for in Melbourne include (6) Roger Federer vs. Aussie James Duckworth, (24) Andreas Seppi vs. Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, (1) Rafael Nadal vs. Aussie Bernard Tomic, upset specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. (3) Maria Sharapova, and former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone vs. (20) Dominika Cibulkova.
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