Halep, Venus Added to Rash of Seeded Exits at Australian Open
by Staff | January 19th, 2016, 9:06 am

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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12 Comments for Halep, Venus Added to Rash of Seeded Exits at Australian Open

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Sad to see Halep and Venus out. Halep especially, as I really expected her to be firmly top 3 for a while.

Good to see Azarenka and Ivanovic playing well, I hope they can both become consistent challengers again- though I can’t stand the shrieking, I like Azarenka’s game.

Bouchard-Radwanska should be a good one.

Wog Boy Says:

Azarenka is ready to take over #1 and replace Serena, I just don’t see any other player ATM that can challenge either of them.
Ana Ivanovic is lost cause, I don’t think she is really into tennis and big results anymore , and reason why I am saying that is her 12th or 13th or even 14th coach, new/old one that hasn’t done much in coaching her first time, yes, I am talking about Andy’s father in law. The only reason Ana went back to him is that she can be based in England, close to her fiance Bastian Schweinsteiger who plays for Manchester United and I watched her match today agains no name Aussie who came out of retirement just to give it another go, Ana was ordinary with her ball toss that she has to chase all over the court.

Chrisford1 Says:

Azarenka pissed away 2 years, but she looks like she is storming back as a force. Will be interested to see if she used any of her time recovering to improve her pathetic serve – or return of serve. This big thing Serena has she lacks is the serve and return of serve game.
Now that Andy has finally stopped sucking on clay and that great mystery of why a guy tailor made for clay underperformed over the years – the greatest mystery is why Vika’s serve sucks. This is a 6 foot tall women with elite strength, flexibility, hand-eye coordination. On paper she should be a great server – but she isn’t.

calmdownplease Says:

Azarenka pissed away 2 years, but she looks like she is storming back as a force.’

Not if a certain twitter report is to be believed
It may be that ‘forces’ will be onto her in the near future

RZ Says:

Azarenka has now copmleted a career slam in double bagels – at least one double bagel at each slam.

Laughing at Halep’s quote about confidence. Her opponent had never won a main draw grand slam match in 14 tries, so despite coming through qualies I doubt she had much confidence.

A lot of places called Venus’s loss a shock, but while it is definitely an upset, I wasn’t shocked by it. Konta has been on a roll since last fall and beat Muguruza and Petkovic at the U.S. Open and Halep in Wuhan. She had lost to Venus in Wuhan but it was 7-5 in the 3rd set, so there was reason to believe she could win the match in Australia.

jane Says:

interesting stat rz… vika has a great shot at winning here i think.

i wasn’t shocked by venus’ loss either, but halep should be doing better.

Margot Says:

Very sad about Halep, but her opponent played beautiful tennis – very accurate, attacking stuff, everything was landing in. One of those special days, I guess

Sally Says:

Halep’s comment actually makes sense- I watched the match and Zheng played an incredibly clean match. She just seemed to improve when she was put under pressure- after Halep had clawed back from 4-0 to 5-4 on serve, she promptly painted the lines to seal the set. When down 3-1 in the second, she suddenly upped her level and started painting the lines again- breaking Halep twice in the process; I think that going for those shots in that sort of position against the world number 2 indicates a lot of confidence. (She also saved a lot of break points with great baseline play) Yes, Halep should have done better- but in all honesty, she did not play a terrible match, she was just hit off the court.

Sally Says:

*Zhang -not Zheng

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Its never a shock when Venus loses, her health issues are chronic and you never know how much energy she can bring to a match. Rather, it is a treat when she gets on a roll.

RZ Says:

@Sally – Thanks, I didn’t see the match. I read that Zhang was thinking about retiring after this tournament and had her parents come out to watch her play. Who knows – that might have been all the difference she needed to finally win a GS match.

Chrisford1 Says:

Tennis Vagabond – V Williams “health woes” are 15% her “Syndrome” and 85% her age, and that is being generous.
Because she looks just like any other aged player that sticks around maybe a bit too long – declining skills, speed, stamina.

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