With the first round of women’s singles completed at the 2014 Australian Open, I just had a few early thoughts. As expected, the top 4 seeds, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Li Na all advanced. I was especially impressed with Li Na handling Ana Konjuh 2 and love. Konjuh is a player we will hear more from as she gets more experience. This could have been a trap match for the streaky Li Na, but she took care of business easily. Vika was pushed a little by Johanna Larsson early but eventually found her stride 7-6 (2) 6-2. I’m not to concerned about that. Vika doesn’t always run through opponents a la Serena Williams. Speaking of Serena, her routine 2 and 1 drubbing of Ashleigh Barty was to be expected. Masha had the trickiest first round foe in Bethanie Mattek-Sands. While Bethanie did have it tied at 4-all in the second set, Masha still closed her out in straight sets, 3 and 4.
While the top 4 rolled on, it wasn’t the same for some other big names. Venus Williams, the 2003 Australian Women’s Singles champion, was ousted by #22 seed Ekaterina Makarova. I saw some news outlets describe that as an upset. While Venus had never lost to Makarova before, not even a set, at this point in their careers Katya is the higher seeded and ranked player. Venus is still a big name, and from time to time she shows flashes of her old self. But she is now too inconsistent and error-prone for this to be called a true upset. Also exiting in the first round was 7th seed Sara Errani. This was a true upset, falling to Julia Goerges, but only just slightly in my mind. Julia is a threat to any player on a given day. She had a couple of prominent upsets of Caroline Wozniacki back when Sunshine was the world #1. That’s just an unfortunately tough first round draw for Errani. Then we get to Petra Kvitova. Petra, Petra, Petra. Oy oy oy. She is so talented. When she has it all working, she looks like a world #1. When it’s not…it’s really not. Normally, I’d be thrilled to see a Thai player, in this case Luksika Kumkhum, score an upset in a Major…if only it wasn’t Petra (or Li Na). But that’s how it goes. I remain in Petra’s corner. I don’t know if she is ever going to turn the corner and fulfill her vast potential. Either way, I’ll keep cheering for her.
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