Two Top 5 seeds were upset on a rollicking opening day at Wimbledon that included a triumphant return for Serena Williams.
Shown the door were No. 4 seed and reigning US Open winner and French Open finalist Sloane Stephens who fell meekly to Croat Donna Vekic 6-1, 6-3, and No. 5 Elina Svitolina who was outlasted 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1 by German Tatjana Maria.
The 25-year-old Stephens did not play any grasscourt warm-up tournaments entering Wimbledon.
“Today just wasn’t my day,” the American said. “I wish I could have played better. I wish I would have made some more balls. I wish I could have pushed her a little bit more. It just wasn’t working…The balls from clay to grass are completely different. The ball stays very low here. You have to make a little bit more of an adjustment. Everyone is dealing with the same conditions, so it’s not just me.”
And it wasn’t just her.
Also orchestrating upsets were Czech Katerina Siniakova outlasting an ankle-addled No. 16 seed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7(3), 6-3, 8-6, Romanian Sorana Cirstea topping No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova 7-5, 6-3, Italy’s Camila Giorgi grinding down No. 21 Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, and German veteran Andrea Petkovic beating No. 31 Zhang Shuai 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Top 10-seeded winners Monday were No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki who walloped American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3, No. 7 Karolina Pliskova stumbling past Brit Harriet Dart 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-1, No. 9 Venus Williams breaking her 0-2 Grand Slam losing streak this year beating Johanna Larsson 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-1, and No. 10 Madison Keys defeating Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-2.
“I’d like to take it a step further [than last year],” said the 2017 runner-up Venus. “I have to focus on every round. I’m a Florida girl, so for me this heat, I can understand it and deal with it.”
Wozniacki is looking to reach the Wimbledon quarters this year for the first time in her career.
“It was special, and so cool, to be back on Centre Court,” said last week’s Eastbourne champion, who will next face play Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Lower-seeded winners Monday were No. 13 Julia Goerges, No. 20 Kiki Bertens, No. 23 Barbora Strycova, No. 25 Serena Williams, No. 29 Mikaela Buzarnescu, and No. 32 Aggie Radwanska.
The younger Williams sister beat former world No. 1 junior Arantxa Rus 7-5, 6-3.
“Not only do I expect to win,” Williams said. “I expect to win emphatically. I have such high expectations of myself. I don’t go out there expecting to ‘do well’ or ‘see what happens.’ That’s just not me.”
Matches to look for on Tuesday at the All England Club are (3) Garbine Muguruza vs. Brit Naomi Broady, (1) Simona Halep vs. Kurumi Nara, (8) Petra Kvitova vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, (24) Maria Sharapova vs. fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, and (11) Angie Kerber vs. former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva.
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