Simona Halep Big Casualty Day 1 of 2017 Australian Open

Day 1 of the women’s draw was played on Monday at Melbourne Park, with Simona Halep the biggest casualty of the day.

It was only a few days ago that I looked at Simona Halep’s draw and concluded that it was the soft part of the women’s singles event. However, I did note poor form to start the season out of the Romanian and wondered out loud if Halep would be up to taking advantage of the opportunity in front of her. The answer, following Day 1 action from the 2017 Australian Open, is an emphatic “no.” Halep crashed out of the first round at Melbourne Park with an error-riddled 6-3, 6-1 loss to American Shelby Rogers.

Rogers, thanks to the upset victory, now has a look at the Australian Open draw from the point of view of the four seed. There’s certainly an opportunity to make the third round ahead as Rogers will face Ashleigh Barty next, a 19-year old Australian player. However, Monica Puig, the seeded player now closest to Rogers in the draw, looms large in what was Halep’s section. The Puerto Rican breezed through her first-round match 6-0, 6-1 and can entertain serious hopes of a deep run at Melbourne Park this season.

Other players that advanced on Monday included Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Svetlana Kuznetsova. All of those players advanced in the same quarter of the draw where Rogers and Puig are playing.

In the other quarter that saw Day 1 action, Angelique Kerber fended off a dangerous opponent in Lesia Tsurenko to advance. Eugenie Bouchard, Coco Vandeweghe, and Garbine Muguruza also enjoyed first-round success. One below-the-radar player that may emerge as an important contender at this year’s Australian Open also advanced in Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. She opened her season with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Jana Cepelova and the Spaniard is one of the players that cannot be forgotten in the draw.

The Day 2 Order of Play will feature matches in the bottom half of the draw. Karolina Pliskova opens Rod Laver Arena with her first-round match. That will be followed by the opening-round’s blockbuster affair between Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams. Johanna Konta is also in action following short rest from last week. Furthermore, Dominika Cibulkova and Caroline Wozniacki will play in Hisense Arena as the contenders look to find early-round sharp form.

Shane Lambert