The Latest: Falconi loses, ends forgettable day for US women
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Monday at the Australian Open (all times local):
Irina Falconi lost to Daria Gavrilova in the last match on Rod Laver Arena, ending a very forgettable opening day for American women at the Australian Open.
No. 23-seeded Gavrilova beat Falconi 6-1, 6-1 to hand the U.S. its ninth loss in 10 matches in the women’s draw. The only American woman to win on Day 1 was Nicole Gibbs, who beat lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 6-1, 6-1 in an early evening match.
The other U.S. women’s losers included 2017 runner-up Venus Williams, U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens and No. 10-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe.
Top-seeded Rafael Nadal didn’t show any side effects from a right knee injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, beating Victor Estrella Burgos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match.
Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, lost in last year’s final here to Roger Federer.
The Spanish lefthander has only lost in the first round at two Grand Slam singles tournaments — to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013, and to Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne in 2016.
Nadal will play Leonardo Mayer in the second round on Wednesday. Mayer beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-3 earlier Monday.
Caroline Wozniacki was an easy 6-2, 6-3 winner over Michaela Buzarnescu in a first-round match at Melbourne Park.
At No. 2, Wozniacki is playing here at her highest seeding since appearing as the top-seeded player at the 2012 Australian Open when she lost in the quarterfinals.
Wozniacki, seeded 19th in Melbourne last year, is still looking to win her first Grand Slam singles title.
Add Jack Sock’s name to the list of Americans departing Monday from the Australian Open.
On the same day the U.S. lost eight women’s players, including 2017 finalist Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Sock was defeated by Japan’s Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 in the first round.
Sock, who’s never advanced beyond the third round at the Australian Open, was the highest-ranked American man at No. 8 and had his highest seeding at a major.
The American, who retired from a match against Sugita at the Hopman Cup to start the season, had 52 unforced errors compared to just 30 winners in the match.
Sock is coming off a career-best season in which he won his first Masters title in Paris and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time. He lost his first match of the new season last week in New Zealand, however, and was criticized afterward in the local media for appearing not to give his full effort in the match.
Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the second round at the Australian Open for the seventh time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Dennis Novak.
Last year at Melbourne Park, Dimitrov equaled his best Grand Slam result, reaching the semifinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets. He also lost a Wimbledon semifinal in 2014 to Novak Djokovic.
Dimitrov has never lost to a qualifier in seven matches at a Grand Slam tournament, and has dropped only one set.
American actor and comedian Will Ferrell watched the Rod Laver Arena match.
John Isner has continued the early American exits from the Australian Open.
The 16th-seeded Isner lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Matt Ebden, his first loss to the Australian veteran in four career meetings.
Ebden broke Isner’s serve in the last game, clinching the match when Isner netted an attempted backhand half-volley.
Seven U.S. women, including 2017 finalist Venus Williams, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and 10th-seeded Coco Vandeweghe, had lost earlier Monday in first-round matches.
U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson has lost in five sets to Kyle Edmund on Show Court 3, the first seeded man to lose at the Australian Open.
The 11th-seeded Anderson twice led by a set but couldn’t fend off Edmund, who got the decisive break in the seventh game of the fifth set and served out at love for a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
It was the only meeting since Anderson beat Edmund in five sets in the third round of the French Open.
Edmund, the only British man in the draw after Andy Murray withdrew to have surgery on his injured right hip, had one just once in his previous 12 matches against top 20 opposition.
Anderson warmed up for the first major of the season by reaching the final of the ATP event at Pune. Edmund lost a quarterfinal to Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International and withdrew from the ATP event in Auckland, New Zealand, with a right ankle strain.
Coco Vandeweghe has been upset in the first round by Hungary’s Timea Babos, 7-6 (4), 6-2, a year after upsetting defending champion Angelique Kerber on the way to her first Grand Slam semifinal.
The American was assessed a code violation for taking too much time to return to the court — she was eating a banana. Then she screamed an obscenity while trailing 1-5 in the second set.
Vandeweghe reached a career-high ranking of No. 9 coming into the tournament this week and was seeded 10th — her highest seeding at a Grand Slam tournament.
Vandeweghe only converted one of 10 break points in the match and hit 28 unforced errors to 18 for her Hungarian opponent.
Babos was 0 for 16 against top-10 players coming into the match.
Vandeweghe joined Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin as other American losers early on the first day.
Last year’s finalist Venus Williams is out of the Australian Open, beaten 6-3, 7-5 by Belinda Bencic at Rod Laver Arena.
The turning point in the match came late in the first set when play was stopped to allow for the roof to be closed because of rain at Melbourne Park. After already saving five break points at 4-3, Bencic returned from an almost 30-minute suspension to win six consecutive points to take the first set.
Bencic broke Williams’ serve in final game of the match, winning the last four points. She clinched it when Williams, who had slipped on the far side of the court, couldn’t get to a ball in the open corner.
Williams was among four American women to lose early on the opening day of the tournament. Bencic warmed up for the Australian Open by combining with Roger Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland.
Williams lost to her younger sister Serena in last year’s Australian final. Serena is not defending her title after giving birth to her first child in September.
Rain showers have forced the roof on Rod Laver Arena and two other show courts at the Australian Open to be closed.
The break at Rod Laver came during a marathon eighth game between Venus Williams and Belinda Bencic. With Bencic up a service break at 4-3, the players were on their fifth deuce of the game and Bencic had saved five break points when play was suspended.
The roofs were also closed at Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena, forcing play to be suspended for about 15 minutes at each stadium.
Sloane Stephens has lost her eighth consecutive match since her Grand Slam breakthrough title at last year’s U.S. Open.
Stephens was serving for the match in the second set against Zhang Shuai in the first round at the Australian Open on Monday but lost 2-6, ,7-6 (2), 6-2.
It was a tough first-rounder for Stephens — Zhang is ranked 34th and just outside the top 32 that would have seen the Chinese player seeded for the tournament.
Stephens didn’t play last year’s Australian Open because of a left foot injury that kept her out of action until Wimbledon. After her U.S. Open final win over fellow American Madison Keys, she lost her next six matches — four at tournaments in China and twice in the Fed Cup final — then opened the year with a first-round loss at last week’s Sydney International.
Julia Goerges has extended her winning streak to 15 matches, beating Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-4 in the first round at the Australian Open.
The 29-year-old German ended the year with tournament wins at Moscow and Zhuhai, then began 2018 with a win over Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the ASB Classic at Auckland, New Zealand.
Goerges is playing this year’s Australian Open with a career-high ranking of No. 12. Last year here, she was 57th.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko made a positive start in her attempt to win a second Grand Slam singles title when she beat veteran Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-4 in a first-round match at the Australian Open. The age gap between 20-year-old Ostapenko and 37-year-old Schiavone, the 2010 French Open winner, was the biggest of any in the first round at Melbourne Park.
Ostapenko saved two break points in the third game of the opening set and clinched the set with an ace. After a trade of breaks in the second, Ostapenko got the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set, then served out the match after double-faulting on her first match point.
The seventh-seeded Ostapenko is playing her third Australian Open — she advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park last year. Schiavone was playing in the Australian Open main draw for the 17th time.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko will start things off at the Australian Open on Monday in a Rod Laver Arena match against Francesca Schiavone.
The first Grand Slam of the year begins under partly cloudy skies with a slight chance of rain and a temperature of 19 Celsius (66 Fahrenheit).
Another major singles champion from last year, U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens, was set to begin play at the same time on Margaret Court Arena. The American will take on Zhang Shuai.
Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams plays Belinda Bencic in the second match at Rod Laver Arena, and top-seeded Rafael Nadal plays the first evening match when he takes on Victor Estrella Burgos.
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