Serena, Kenin, Keys
among Day 2 AO winners
Ashley Marshall | January 15, 2019
If Monday in Melbourne was all about the next generation of young American players priming themselves for a Grand Slam run, Tuesday was headlined by Team USA’s top women shining on center stage.
Serena and Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin – all ranked inside the Top 37 in the world – were among the winners on Day 2 in Melbourne, as the U.S. went 6-7, including 5-1 in the women’s draw.
Combined with victories for Madison Brengle and Ryan Harrison, the U.S. sent 15 players to the second round. Yesterday, Team USA went 9-9 to kick off the first major of the season.
The show courts were the place to be Tuesday at Melbourne Park, with Serena and Keys securing straight-set wins in Rod Laver Arena and Venus battling from a set down to secure a win inside Margaret Court Arena.
Starting her bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand slam women’s singles title, No.
16 seed Serena dropped just two games in an impressive 49-minute rout of Tatjana Maria of Germany, while Keys – seeded one spot lower – raced past Australian wild card Destanee Aiava, 6-2, 6-2, in 71 minutes.
Serena, a seven-time champ in Melbourne, has never lost in the first round here, and there were no signs of it happening Tuesday in her first match back inside Rod Laver Arena since she lifted the trophy two years ago while pregnant with Alexis Olympia.
The 37-year-old dominated throughout, dropping just five points on serve, never facing a break point and winning the first nine games of the match. Maria held in consecutive games to prolong the inevitable before Serena broke for the fifth time in seven service games to seal the victory.
Serena’s path to a historic 24th win is far from simple, but a straight-forward win in Round 1 will likely give her confidence as she progresses deeper in the tournament. She plays former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in Round 2 and possibly No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the Round of 32 before a potential prime-time matchup with world No. 1 Simona Halep or sister Venus in the fourth round.
Venus kept the possibility of a 31st meeting with Serena alive after storming back from a set down to beat No. 25 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2.
Twice a finalist in Melbourne, Venus has had a rollercoaster two years in the twilight of her sure-fire Hall of Fame career. She contested the championship match against Serena at the 2017 Australian Open – Venus’ first Grand Slam singles final since 2009 – and she went on to make both the Wimbledon final and US Open semifinals in what was arguably her most successful season on tour in a decade and a half.
But last year she also lost in the first round of the Australian Open and French Open, marking the first time she has lost in the opening match of consecutive majors in 22 years. Venus will play Alize Cornet of France in Round 2, as she looks to earn a spot in the third round for the 14th time.
Joining the sisters in Thursday’s second round is Kenin (pictured above), who continued her impressive start to the year with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, and Brengle, who needed less than an hour to dispatch Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi, 6-4, 6-0.
Kenin won her first pro singles title at the Hobart International in Australia last week and has carried the momentum into Melbourne, where she’s into the second round for the first time in her career. The 20-year-old, who has twice reached the third round of the US Open, will next play top-seeded Halep.
Kenin has never beaten a Top-5 player before, but 2018 wins over world No. 6 Caroline Garcia of France on the grass of Mallorca and against No. 10 Julia Goerges of Germany in Wuhan give her a puncher’s chance against the world No. 1, who has played just two matches in three months and who came into Australia on a five-match losing streak since reaching the Cincinnati final in August.
The lone American male winner on Day 2 at Melbourne Park was Ryan Harrison, who beat Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, 6-0, 7-5, 6-3.
Harrison, 26, matched his career-best performance at a major in reaching the third round of the Australian Open last year. Once ranked as high as No. 40 in the world in July 2017, the right-hander is looking to improve on his current ranking of No. 81.
With points to defend Down Under this week, Harrison will need to defeat No. 15 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Thursday if he is to stop from dropping down the standings.
Elsewhere, qualifier Mitchell Krueger fell to world No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, while Jack Sock lost to another wild-card recipient, Alex Bolt of Australia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Bradley Klahn came close to producing a signature win against No. 24 seed Hyeon Chung, eventually falling, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo lost to No. 29 seed Gilles Simon of France, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2, and Sam Querrey lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1.
In a battle of qualifiers on Court 5, Varvara Lepchenko fell to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, and USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge winner Whitney Osuigwe, the youngest woman in the main draw at age 16, lost to Canadian qualifier Bianca Andreescu, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.
Wednesday sees the start of second-round action. Featured matchups include No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens against Timea Babos of Hungary and Frances Tiafoe against fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa. Doubles also gets underway, headlined by the Bryan brothers playing their first major event together since the 2018 Australian Open.