Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Sports

Halep bounced in opening round

MELBOURNE, Australia — American Shelby Rogers caused the first upset of the Australian Open, beating fourth-seeded Simona Halep 6-3, 6-1 in the opening match on the center court today.

Playing just her second match in the main draw at the season's first Grand Slam tournament, the No. 52-ranked Rogers broke the 2014 French Open finalist's serve four times on Rod Laver Arena. It was the second year in a row that Halep lost in the first round at Melbourne Park, and the fourth time overall.

Rogers made a surprising run to the French Open quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza last year, when Rogers was ranked No. 108, but advanced to the second round at only one other tournament in 2016. Her only previous win against a top 10 player was in 2014, when she beat then No. 8-ranked Eugenie Bouchard in Montreal.

"There are no easy matches at this level … so I'm happy to get through and definitely take confidence from what I did today," Rogers said in her on-court interview.

Muguruza, seeded seventh, saved a set point in the first set and needed a medical timeout before advancing with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Marina Erakovic.

Monica Puig, last year's Olympic gold medalist, raced through her opening match, beating Patricia Tig 6-0, 6-1. Duan Yingying was among the early winners with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Rebecca Sramkova.

Australian teenager Destanee Aiava's milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) loss to German qualifier Mona Barthel. The 16-year-old Melbourne high school student became the first player born in this millennium to play a main-draw match at a major.

Jeremy Chardy was the first winner on the men's side, and he played only four games. He was leading 4-0 when Nicolas Almagro retired with an injured right calf muscle.

Later, Andy Murray faced Illya Marchenko in his first Grand Slam match as the world's top-ranked player. Murray was chasing his first Australian title after finishing as the runnerup five times.

New women's No. 1 Angelique Kerber opened against Lesia Tsurenko as she pursued her third Grand Slam title and first at the Australian Open.

Before the matches began, Rafael Nadal asserted that isn't planning to give up tennis soon.

Nadal, a 14-time major winner, had two lengthy injury layoffs last year: 2½ months after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season.

"If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home," said Nadal, who opens his tournament today against Florian Mayer.

"I am being honest … I am here because I believe … I can fight for the things that really motivate me."

Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free.

"What do you mean 'pain free?' " he said. "I am not injured, no. Pain free is a long time ago."

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