The opening day of this year’s Australian Open didn’t disappoint. We, as well as the thousands that flocked into Melbourne, were all provided with thrilling matches, dominant performances and a few shock exits. By the end of the day 12 American players had been beaten, including some high-profile names. Here are my top five matches from day one.
Kyle Edmund bt. Kevin Anderson (6-7 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4)
A match that as close and as entertaining as their previous encounter at Roland Garros last year, Edmund showed how strong he is mentally after claiming the best win of his career to date over 11th seed Kevin Anderson.
The big South African came into the match in good form. He had reached the final of the US Open back in August and had started the 2018 season in fine spirits by making it to the final in Pune.
Twice Anderson led the match in terms of sets and in the decider he broke early to take a 2-0 lead, but the Brit dug deep to claw himself back into contention and ultimately come away victorious.
Edmund, ranked 49th in the world, produced some excellent tennis in the epic that lasted a minute shy of four hours. He had been working hard on returning serves in the off-season and proved it against a giant of a man who usually dominates with his serving prowess.
This victory was another step in the right direction for the 23-year-old, who will ultimately have to step up to the mantle of British number one once Andy Murray abdicates the crown. If he carries on performing like he did against Anderson, he could go further in this tournament than many anticipate.
Rafa Nadal bt. Victor Estrella Burgos (6-1 6-1 6-1)
Number one seed Nadal needed just 94 minutes to complete a routine win on Rod Laver Arena.
The Spaniard is on the hunt for just his second Australian Open title and only dropped three games against Dominican Republic’s Burgos.
Nadal will have more competitive contests in future rounds but the match was a good workout for his knee, which he injured last November. The injury forced him to miss Brisbane a couple of weeks ago, but he insists he is feeling good and is ready to compete.
Belinda Bencic bt. Venus Williams (6-3 7-5)
Bencic is powering back up the rankings after beating Venus Williams. (Image Credit: AP via. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/tennis/australian-open-belinda-bencic-dumps-venus-williams-in-first-round/news-story/9feeefe1cd156e00b378e31c31f2a2ea)
Labelled as the next Swiss prodigy, 20-year-old Bencic produced the best performance of her young career to stun number five seed Venus Williams.
Bencic reached the top 10 aged just 18 before a wrist injury saw her fall back down the WTA rankings again. But after this showing it will only be a matter of time before she’s once again challenging at the top.
The Swiss pressed last year’s runner up Williams throughout the match, forcing errors and breaking serve numerous times to wrap up the straight sets win.
Victory was Bencic’s 16th in a row and despite being unseeded the world number 78 will be a difficult opponent for even the very top players.
Zhang Shuai bt. Sloane Stephens (2-6 7-6 6-2)
US Open champion Stephens is yet to win a single’s match since the final at Flushing Meadows after she crashed out at the first hurdle in Melbourne to world number 34 Zhang.
The number 13 seed was serving for the match in the second set before China’s Zhang fought back to win the tiebreak.
Stephens then capitulated in the deciding set and has now lost eight matches in a row since her maiden Grand Slam victory in New York.
Timea Babos bt. Coco Vandeweghe (7-6 6-2)
Tenth seed Vandeweghe received two court violations during her defeat to Hungarian opponent.
Last year’s semi-finalist refused to restart play due to a ‘lack of bananas on court’ before later swearing at Babos.
The world number 51 didn’t let Vandeweghe’s temperament affect her performance, as she breezed the American aside in the second set.
Other selected results
Dimitrov (3) bt. Novak (6-3 6-2 6-1)
Cilic (6) bt. Pospisil (6-2 6-2 4-6 7-6)
Sugita bt. Sock (8) (6-1 7-6 5-7 6-3)
Carreno-Busta (10) bt. Kubler (7-5 4-6 7-5 6-1)
Tsonga (15) bt. King (6-4 6-4 6-1)
Ebden bt. Isner (16) (6-4 3-6 6-3 6-3)
Kyrgios (17) bt. Dutra Silva (6-1 6-2 6-4)
Nishioka bt. Kohlschreiber (27) (6-3 2-6 6-0 1-6 6-2)
Wozniaki (2) bt. Buzarnescu (6-2 6-3)
Svitolina (4) bt. Jorovic (6-3 6-2)
Ostapenko (7) bt. Schiavone (6-1 6-4)
Georges (12) bt. Kenin (6-4 6-4)
Rybarikova (19) bt. Townsend (6-0 7-5)
Gavrilova (23) bt. Falconi (6-1 6-1)
Cibulkova (24) bt. Kanepi (6-2 6-2)