Three unseeded Americans stunned seeds, including a Top 5er, and a former No. 1 woke up healthy for an upset on opening Monday at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
American Shelby Rogers was patient in setting up points and knocking balls away during a comprehensive 6-3, 6-1 upset over No. 4 Simona Halep, who was addled by a knee issue. Rogers was joined on the upset tip by fellow Americans Coco Vandeweghe powering past No. 15 Roberta Vinci 6-1, 7-6(3), and Varvara Lepchenko edging No. 18 Kiki Bertens 7-5, 7-6(5).
“I think she played a very high standard,” Halep said after the loss. “I had pain at my knee. For me, in the second set, it was difficult to move anymore, but she deserved to win. She was aggressive, and she hit very strong, the balls.”
Other upsets were China’s Peng Shuai toppling No. 23 Darya Kasatkina 6-0, 7-6(5), and former No. 1 Serb Jelena Jankovic outlasting No. 26 Laura Siegemund 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
Peng will next meet Genie Bouchard, who was a 6-0, 6-4 winner over Louisa Chirico of the U.S. Jankovic said she is over the niggling injuries that held her back in 2016.
“There were a lot of things I should have done a lot better and a lot of room for improvement,” said Jankovic, who will next face German Julia Goerges. “I understand that. I’m very realistic. But a win is a win.”
No. 1 Angie Kerber, who entered the Aussie Open after a 1-2 win-loss record in warm-up events, narrowly defeated the Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
“That was one moment when I was sitting on the bench. I remember the match from last year,” Kerber said, recalling fighting off a match point last year before later going on to win the tournament. “I mean, I was down the match point. Here I was up the match point. I came to the third set. But it was just really a short moment that I was thinking about that match.”
Kerber will try and further shake off the rust next round against German countrywoman Carina Witthoeft.
Other Top 10 winners on the day were No. 7 Garbine Muguruza Blanco over New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic 7-5, 6-4; No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova rolling over Mariana Duque 6-0, 6-1, and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro over Slovak 6-2, 6-2.
“I do feel it a little bit,” Muguruza said of dealing with an ongoing adductor injury. “It’s nothing really to worry — just more mental, because I was nervous [about it], too.”
Muguruza will next face American Sam Crawford, who beat ASB Classic champion Lauren Davis, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Additional seeds in the winner’s circle Monday were No. 11 Elina Svitolina, No. 13 Venus Williams working past a tough Kateryna Kozlova 7-6(5), 7-5; No. 20 Zhang Shuai, No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 27 Irina Begu coming from a set down to beat Yaroslava Shvedova, No. 29 Monica Puig, and No. 32 Anastasija Sevastova.
“She hasn’t had the years I’ve had, the grey hair I’m dyeing, the wrinkles I’m hiding,” Venus said after outlasting her 22-year-old opponent in the heat. “I’m a Floridian, so I’m pretty good with heat. But obviously, if it’s going to be hot, I think with players, you can train in the heat the week before. This last week it was kind of cool, actually, a lot of the time. So [the heat is] definitely a wildcard, like, total wildcard.”
Highlights of Tuesday play in Melbourne, where temperatures are forecasted to skyrocker, will be (2) Serena Williams vs. Belinda Bencic, upset specialist Tsvetana Pironkova vs. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska, (8) Samantha Stosur vs. Heather Watson, and Camila Giorgi vs. (12) Timea Bacsinszky.
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