Monday, January 13, 2014
Serena Williams cleanly defeated 17-year-old Australian Ashleigh Barty. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE — While you were sleeping, here’s what you missed on Day 1 of the Australian Open.
• Venus Williams fought valiantly and lost … again: Venus lost to No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, the third consecutive Grand Slam tournament in which Williams has battled deep into the third set only to lose a first- or second-round match. Makarova is no slouch — she’s now beaten both Williams sisters in Melbourne, having knocked out Serena in the fourth round in 2012. But this time, it was Venus’ play in the clutch that was her undoing. She was just 5-for-14 on break points and blew a 3-0 lead in the final set.
Watch: Venus Williams hits sweet drop-shot winner
• Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams cruise: The tournament favorites had no problem with their overmatched opponents. Djokovic opened the night session on Rod Laver Arena with a 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-1 win over Lukas Lacko, while Serena rolled past 17-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-1.
• A Thai unknown knocks out No. 6 Petra Kvitova: Introducing, Luksika Kumkhum. The 20-year-old, ranked No. 88, stunned Kvitova 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. It was Kvitova’s first opening-round loss at a major since 2011 and just the second win at a Slam for Kumkhum.
• Two 16-year-olds make an impression: In the battle of old and new, it was 16-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, the reigning junior No. 1, who prevailed, beating 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Another 16-year-old, Ana Konjuh, wasn’t as successful, losing easily to No. 4 Li Na 6-2, 6-0, but the Croat left a big impression with her weapons. “I was feeling she has a huge, big serve and very good baseline [game],” Li said. “I was feeling if she got more experience, I think she will be very good player.” Li will face Bencic in the second round.
• The seeds go 27-5 on the day: In addition to Kvitova, No. 7 Sara Errani, No. 12 Roberta Vinci, No. 12 Tommy Haas and No. 23 Elena Vesnina all fell on Day 1. But it was an otherwise straightforward day for the seeds.
• Tomas Berdych confused us all: He took the court wearing this. What is that?
Kvitova, Errani and Vinci all crumble Down Under
Photo of the day
Luksika Kumkhum celebrates her second career Grand Slam victory. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Rebound of the day
Madison Keys had more match points in the second set than she could even remember against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, but couldn’t covert any of them and found herself in a third set. She was able to put the disappointment behind her (trust me, that was a feat) to win 6-2, 6-7 (8), 9-7.
On the men’s side, Australia’s Matthew Ebden was on the verge of blowing his third straight two-set lead at the Australian Open, but he rebounded from a fourth-set bagel to beat Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3.
Bummer of the day
Haas had a great draw with the possibility to make a run deep into the second week, but he retired down 7-5, 5-2 to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez because of a shoulder injury.
Quote of the day
“I will try, but I’m not sure what I can tell you. … But I think that probably I wanted too much, and then everything just fell down.”
– Petra Kvitova, when asked to explain the loss. I think that’s a pretty good explanation.