Down Under Rundown: Venus bows out, Serena rolls on Day One of Aussie Open
Grand Slam tennis is back! With the year’s first major under way in Melbourne, we give you the best of Day One from the blue courts of Australia with the Down Under Rundown.
Venus Williams loses in first round, wears great dress
The first notable defeat of the event went to Venus Williams, who lost out to No. 22-seeded Ekaterina Makarova. The unseeded Williams won the first set 6-2 before losing the last two 6-4 each.
Williams has seven Grand Slam titles to her credit but is clearly on the downhill slope of her career. She was a finalist in Melbourne in 2003.
If nothing else, she was one of the fashion stars of Day One with this zebra-print get-up:
Women’s tour’s oldest player also knocked out
Kimiko Date-Krumm can’t go anywhere on tour without the "oldest player" label getting attached to her name. The 43-year-old is still chugging along, but she fell Monday at the hands of Belgian teen Belinda Bencic. Like Venus, Date-Krumm won a set but lost in three.
Date-Krumm was playing in her 48th Grand Slam tournament and was older than everyone else in the tournament by a decade.
Her best result at the Aussie Open? She was a semifinalist … in 1994! Bencic was not alive for that. Kudos to Date-Krumm for the historic longevity.
Big names win big in openers
The brightest stars to play on the opening night had little trouble. In the wee hours US time, men’s No. 2 Novak Djokovic and women’s No. 1 Serena Williams took care of business in a hurry.
Both won in straight sets, with Serena dropping just three games in the entire match.
Also winning easily was No. 4 seed Na Li, a surprise women’s finalist in Melbourne in 2011, then again in 2013.
Wawrinka takes first step to wipe away sting of 2013
No. 8 seed Stan Wawrinka more or less got a free pass to the second round when opponent Andrey Golubev retired after just 15 games with a leg injury in their match Monday.
The Swiss star played some of his best tennis ever in 2013, and nearly upset Novak Djokovic in the fourth round in Melbourne last year. Djokovic clipped him 12-10 in the fifth set.
He also pushed Djokovic to five sets in the US Open semifinals last year before also losing that. Tough breaks, both of them, and Wawrinka is no doubt eager for his next shot at a marquee opponent at a Slam.
The heat is already taking a toll
This was supposed to be the "nice" day in Melbourne, and already players are struggling.
Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands required treatment during her match against No. 14 Ana Ivanovic. It’s sure to be a common scene, with temperatures expected to soar past 100 degrees each of the next four days before a cool-off.
Upset of the day
That’s Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum, who turned in the biggest upset of Day One, knocking off No. 6 Petra Kvitova 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011 and was a semifinalist in Melbourne in 2012.
No. 7 Sara Errani also lost on the women’s side, as did No. 12 Roberta Vinci.
On the men’s side, the biggest seed to fall was No. 12 Tommy Haas. The German had to retire due to a shoulder injury in his match against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Photo of the day
Australia’s Matthew Ebden put on quite the show for the home fans and spared no one in his efforts to track down balls in his first-round match against Nicolas Mahut. Here, a linesperson suffers a blow as Ebden plays a shot.
It was not in vain. Ebden won a five-set thriller to advance, the only of the three Aussie men who played Monday to move on.