To say that the 2018 Australian Open started with a bang is an understatement. In the first day, no less than 11 seeds bowed out, on both the men’s and the women’s draws.
Upsets galore and most U.S. players out on Day 1 at the Australian Open
Those upsets include last year’s runner-up, Venus Williams. The fifth seed had a complicated draw, facing in-form Belinda Bencic. The Swiss played a near flawless match to win 6-3, 7-5. “It was amazing, this match. I think the level was great. Also, she beat me four times before, so I was really happy, took my chance this time”, said Bencic.
A semifinalist in 2017, Coco Vandeweghe (10) was also shown the exit, defeated 7-6(4), 6-2 by Timea Babos.
For her part, the U.S. Open champion, Sloane Stephens (13), put up a great fight. However, the American bowed out in three sets, as Zhang Shuai won 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-2.
The other seeds to be ousted from the start were Dominika Cibulkova (24) and Peng Shuai (25), both meekly defeated 6-2, 6-2 by Kaia Kanepi and 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk, respectively, as well as Ekaterina Makarova (31), topped 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 by Irina-Camelia Begu.
On the men’s side, Jack Sock (8) was the highest seed to bite the dust after Yuichi Sugita won 6-1, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3. His countryman, John Isner (16), has also been ousted, losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Aussie Matt Ebden.
For his part, Kyle Edmund logged one of the biggest wins of his career, topping last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, Kevin Anderson (11) 6-7(4), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Freshly back from a long injury lay-off, Yoshihito Nishioka started with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber (27).
Finally, Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans overcame Frenchman Lucas Pouille (18) 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(8).
Furthermore, only three of the 15 U.S. players in action made it to the second round: Nicole Gibbs, Ryan Harrison, and qualifier Mackenzie McDonald. A very bad day for them.
Nadal, Wozniacki, Shapovalov through, and a few marathon men
In the other matches, the four top seeds in action all advanced to the second round.
Rafael Nadal dispelled many doubts, cruising to a triple 6-1 victory over Victor Estrella Burgos in 1h34. “I started with positive feelings”, said the word number one following the match. “That’s most important thing for me now. Of course, there is things to improve. But the things that I need to improve, the matches will give me. Victories are the most important thing now.”
In the second round, the Spaniard will face Leonardo Mayer (who won 6-2, 7-6(1), 6-3 against Nicolas Jarry).
For his part, Grigor Dimitrov (3) needed only four more minutes to defeat qualifier Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Another qualifier awaits the Bulgarian in the next round, as he will face Mackenzie McDonald.
Triumph was also at the end for Marin Cilic (6), Pablo Carreño Busta (10), Nick Kyrgios (17), Gilles Müller (23), Damir Dzumhur (28), Andrey Rublev (30), and Pablo Cuevas (31).
In the end, the match of the day ended up being a very straightforward win for Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, who defeated fellow NextGen Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(5) in 1h56. In the second round, Shapovalov will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (15), in a repeat of their U.S. Open clash, which happened in the exact same round.
Furthermore, several marathons marked Day 1 at the Australian Open, nine matches going to the limit of five sets. Among those, two went overtime, and both ended with the same final score: 11-9. Diego Schwartzman (24), topped Dusan Lajovic, whereas Casper Ruud edged Quentin Halys to get his first ever Grand Slam win. The coincidence: Schwartzman will face Ruud in the second round.
On the women’s side, it was a good start for Caroline Wozniacki. The second seed wasted no time in defeating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 6-3 and reach the second round, where she will face Jana Fett. “I’ve never played her before. I guess I’ll have to do some scouting and see how she’s playing”, said the Dane about her next rival.
Fourth seed Elina Svitolina also started strong, with a 6-3, 6-2 win over qualifier Ivana Jorovic. Next up for the Ukrainian will be a strong test: Katerina Siniakova.
Among the other winners: Jelena Ostapenko (7), Julia Goerges (12), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (15), Magdalena Rybarikova (19), Daria Kasatkina (22), Daria Gavrilova (23), Kiki Bertens (30), Anett Kontaveit (32), Carla Suárez Navarro, and Monica Puig.