By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • It has been a tumultuous first four days in Melbourne
  • Who was hot and who was not?
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – There were seeds scattered a plenty in the first two rounds, and plenty of talking points – here are 10 things we learned in the first two rounds.

 

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1) Day 1 was a bad day to be a seed, especially if you were American

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The bottom half of the women’s draw scattered seeds aplenty as Venus Williams, Coco Vandeweghe and US Open champion Sloane Stephens all exited stage right.

Williams came up against the returning Belinda Bencic and the big-hitting Swiss ensured that last year’s finalist would be on an early flight home…

Vandeweghe made a bit of trouble for herself, standing her ground and refusing to get up from a change of ends while waiting for a banana (!) earning herself a code violation in the process

Stephens is now 0-8 in matches since her run to the US Open title.

Things were no better for the American men on the first day. Jack Sock, who looked lacklustre in Auckland bowed out in the first round, also followed by John Isner.

The full carnage of seeds on Day 1 were:

  • Venus Williams [5]
  • Coco Vandeweghe [10]
  • Sloane Stephens [13]
  • Dominika Cibulkova [24]
  • Peng Shuai [25]
  • Ekaterina Makarova [31]
  • Kevin Anderson [11]
  • John Isner [16]
  • Lucas Pouille [18]
  • Philipp Kohlschreiber [27]

2) We need not have worried about missing Andy Murray

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It is fair to say there were a few groans when the draw pitted current British No. 2 Kyle Edmund against US Open finalist and 11th seed Kevin Anderson. We knew that Edmund had pushed him close at Roland Garros, but especially after that nasty ankle twist he suffered in Brisbane, there were concerns.

We need not have worried – Edmund showed immense maturity as he pegged Anderson back twice to level the match, before showing great resolve to break back in the decider, before taking the fifth set.

 

3) Nadal finally gets his season started

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After a bit of a false start to his season, Rafael Nadal got off to a solid start, giving up just a single game each set to Victor Estrella Burgos. So far the Spaniard had pulled out of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and Brisbane, and it was a new experience for him to come into a Slam without a warm-up.

Turns out – he should not have been that worried. As always he continued to play down any issues, but while Nadal often coasts through his earlier rounds it will be interesting to see how he does once the draw gets deeper.

 

4) Novak Djokovic also looks like he is back on form

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Novak Djokovic also had a decent start after his own stutter to the start of the season. He looked solid in his match against Donald Young, and he faced Gael Monfils in the blistering heat of the day and outlasted the mercurial Frenchman, although he did believe that it was bordering on unplayable for players in those conditions.

5) What price a Slam for Simona Halep?

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On the other side of a stacked women’s draw, Simona Halep might be many people’s favourite for that elusive maiden Slam title, but a nasty looking ankle turn left many wondering if she would even be able to take to the court. As it turns out, Halep on one leg is way better than Bouchard’s one-dimensional game and she lives to fight another day.

 

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6) Bencic could not back that Venus win up

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So much for Belinda Bencic‘s hint of a run – she came up against a tricky customer in Luksika Kumkhum who dismantled the Swiss quite effectively as she failed to back up her win over Williams. She admitted that she has trouble with that match-up – the memory of losing to her in the lower tiers still sharp in her mind. She has only just returned though and the season is long – she is perhaps one to watch once Wimbledon rolls around.

 

7) Wozniacki turns Houdini with quite the comeback

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Never keep a good Dane down – Caroline Wozniacki mounted perhaps the comeback of a lifetime. She had already come from a set down and had to fight from 1-5 down in the decider saving two match points and breaking an edgy Jana Fett twice to finally claim a place in the third round – on her first and single match point, no less!

 

8) King Kyle gets a second shout

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Edmund breezed past ‘giant-killer’ Denis Istomin who took down Djokovic this time last year. Edmund is in a completely seedless section of that quarter and this is an opportunity for the taking. Two from Edmund, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Andreas Seppi and Ivo Karlovic will be an Australian Open quarter-finalist.

 

 

9) The making of Nick Kyrgios

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Since making waves at Wimbledon when he beat Nadal, it has been a real rollercoaster for Nick Kyrgios. Supremely talented but also at times self-destructive, he showed great fight in Brisbane to overcome a knee injury to win the title, and now with no injury issues lurking he has looked impressive. he faces his own comeback king in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who rescued his chances in a thrilling five-setter against Denis Shapovalov.

 

10) Barty-time

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The rest of the home hopes lie with Ashleigh Barty – there is nothing not to like with this one. She is one of the most humble players on the tour, but thoroughly engaging and with a ton of fight. She clawed herself back from a set down against Camila Giorgi, and it does not get any easier with the big hitting Naomi Osaka coming up next.

The third round matches start on Friday.

 

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