Oh the humanity!
After a flurry of upsets on the women’s side on Day 1 at the Australian Open, Day 2 showed no letup. The current world No. 2 and a former No. 1 were among five more seeds upended in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Leading the rush to the tarmac was No. 2 Simona Halep, who entered the event suffering an Achilles problem, and exited 6-4, 6-3 to China’s Zhang Shuai.
“She had confidence,” said Halep, who was not brimming with such. “She had three matches here already in the quallies. Yeah, she didn’t have fear…But I think I let her play her best tennis. I didn’t hit very strong and I didn’t hit with good strength…I had many problems in this period before coming here, so I can say that I am a little bit down mentally because I was very sick home. Then I came here with Achilles again. So it’s tough to be positive, 100%, and try everything.”
No. 8 seed and former No. 1 Venus Williams also was a first-round loser, falling to Brit Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2.
“It was hot out there,” Konta said. “I was playing an incredibly great player. That’s no secret…Just really focusing on my breathing and just trying to stay very present…I had been on court with her before. I had a better understanding, better feel of what kind of ball was going to be coming off her racquet. I’m very happy with the game plan I went out there with and just my ability to really stick with it, even when things were getting a bit close.”
Also upset-minded were Swede Johanna Larsson who upended No. 29 Irina Begu 6-3, 6-2; American Varvara Lepchenko who got the best of No. 31 Lesia Tsurenko 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3; and Czech Barbora Strycova who dismissed No. 32 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-4.
Top 10 players avoiding the upset bug to move into the second round were No. 3 Garbine Muguruza Blanco who rolled past Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-0, 6-4; No. 7 Angelique Kerber who needed to work past Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 6-3; and No. 9 Karolina Pliskova who defeated Aussie Kimberly Birrell 6-4, 6-4.
Other seeded victors, all in straight sets, were No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 14 Victoria Azarenka ruthlessly double-bageling Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, No. 15 Madison Keys in her first match of 2016, No. 18 Elina Svitolina, No. 19 Jelena Jankovic, No. 20 Ana Ivanovic, No. 21 Ekaterina Makarova, and No. 30 Sabine Lisicki.
“I don’t think I’m looking for perfection,” said Azarenka after not dropping a game. “I’m looking for effort. I’m looking for focus. I like that I was very composed today from first point to the last point. Like it didn’t matter what the score was, I was there on every point.”
Ivanovic entered Melbourne with an 0-2 record on the year and lost first round at last year’s Australian Open.
“It just means a lot to me, to be through,” Ivanovic said. “Every match is a new challenge. It wasn’t really the beginning I had [in mind] in this Aussie tour, but I’m really happy to have the victory here and hopefully I can improve in my next match.”
Matches to look for Wednesday in Melbourne include (1) Serena Williams testing her recent knee injury vs. Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh, (4) Aggie Radwanska vs. Genie Bouchard, and (6) Petra Kvitova vs. Aussie comer Daria Gavrilova.
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