Day 1 of the 2017 Australian Open is in the books and as has become the norm of the first day of the AO down under, there were some surprising, head-scratching results, even for the WTA! I set my alarm for 4am but managed to wake naturally at 3.30am… what can I say, my body clock is just tuned to tennis! It was joyous to be able to watch matches on a proper-sized screen. The Eurosport Player on the iPad app is solid enough although all the courts kept disappearing from time-to-time!
Starting with the notable results… the first match of the tournament on Rod Laver Arena produced a sizeable upset as Shelby Rogers defeated the number four seed, Simona Halep, 6-3 6-1 in just 75 minutes. It was a great win for a super-starting Shelby in 2017 but it seems like Simona had not recovered from the knee issues bothering her in Shenzhen.
Peng Shuai knocked out the number 23 seed, Daria Kasatkina, 6-0 7-6(5). All the credit to Peng for what she has achieved in her comeback to tennis following the serious back injury but I was GUTTED to see Kasatkina go out after such a promising start to the year. The Russian player had her chances in the second set as she twice failed to serve out the set and couldn’t take advantage of a 4-1 lead in the second set tiebreak. Peng gets Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.
Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza both advanced to the second round following scares; Kerber failed to serve out the match against Lesia Tsurenko in the second set but got the job done in three sets, 6-2 5-7 6-2. Muguruza saved a set point in the first set and then battled from *1-4 *15-40 down in the second set to eventually overcome Marina Erakovic in straights, 7-5 6-4. Muguruza was hindered by the leg injury she suffered in Brisbane, but she sounded positive in her press conference.
Two results that I did not see coming AT ALL.
Kristina Kucova d. Christina McHale, 6-4 6-0
Samantha Crawford d. Lauren Davis, 4-6 6-3 6-0
My first match of the AO 2017 was the third set of Pliskova-Golubic which saw Kristyna Pliskova recover from a mid-match blip to see off Viktorija Golubic, 6-3 2-6 6-4. Pliskova had been in control, up 6-3 *2-0, before Golubic went on a seven-game winning streak to go ahead in the decider. Pliskova was clearly struggling physically but produced a gutsy display in the third set. The Czech player saved two break points at *2-2 and began charging the net with her movement impeded.
Pliskova failed to serve out the match but broke for the win with a frustrated Golubic losing her way. The Swiss player received a code violation for thwacking a ball out of the court after losing her serve and just about resisted the temptation to chuck her racquet too! There was a nice handshake at the end with the pair teaming up in doubles later this week.
The third match up on Margaret Court Arena between the number 15 seed, Roberta Vinci and CoCo Vandeweghe had its moments. Vandeweghe keeled over leading 6-1 2-4 after a lengthy point which had seen Vinci produce a pin-point perfect lob. Vandeweghe was on the floor at the back of the court for a good five minutes. The American returned to her chair and the action soon restarted as she quickly erased Vinci’s break. Roberta was not amused…
Vandeweghe would go onto win in straight sets with an all-round impressive display, playing a clean tiebreak and dominating Vinci with her vicious forehand. CoCo’s reaction at the end was…
Vandeweghe revealed in her post-match interview that she had felt nauseous and that it was not heat related.
I’ve seen some rave reviews about Ashleigh Barty’s performances in 2017 so I was excited to see her in action today. Barty came from a break down in both sets to defeat Annika Beck, 6-4 7-5.
I thought Ash was excellent and her game is a winner on all levels – excellent serve, a fearsome forehand, a potent backhand slice, but also the ability to hit through it for winners. Her game reminds me a lot of Stosur (serve and forehand!). I think she has so much potential going forward and a second round match against Rogers is a huge opportunity for both players.
Elina Svitolina is off to a flying start with a 6-0 6-2 victory over Galina Voskoboeva. The match was closer than the scoreline suggested with Voskoboeva failing to convert on six break points and half of the games going to deuce. Something feels different with Elina this year and i’m remaining content (for now!) with my prediction that she will reach the semi-finals.
Zhang Shuai and Alison Riske both won on Monday to set up a super-sounding second rounder which is my match of the day for Wednesday. I’m hoping to find some time to write a preview of this match.
Venus Williams enjoyed a hard fought win over Kateryna Kozlova, 7-6(5) 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena… Venus’s post-match interview was a good one!
The tricky quartet of Laura Siegemund v Jelena Jankovic and Katerina Siniakova v Julia Goerges produced two tight three setters with Jankovic and Goerges progressing to an intriguing second round tie. As Davis and Siniakova both exited the tournament, two of the three WTA champions from the first week of the tour have fallen at the first hurdle. Your turn, Karolina…
This was nice to see from Anna Tatishvili who played her first match since Wimbledon. Her opponent, Jaimee Fourlis won, 6-4 6-3 in her first ever Slam main draw victory.
The doubles draw is AMAZING and will start on Wednesday.
And finally, the Swiss Fed Cup got together before the tournament started! Belinda and Timea both begin their AO singles campaigns on Tuesday.