Diamond’s Corner: Top Contenders Fall Early in Australian Open

Ranking may not mean much as top 10 players shockingly exit out prematurely in the Australian Open to unseeded underdogs.

The beginning of the end came too soon for contenders in this years Australian Open. U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and Coco Vandeweghe were among the earliest to go in the first round. Then, Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Stan Wawrinka and Johanna Konta followed suit in the second round.

First Round

Stephens, a 13-seed, was among the first to go, a shocking winner of the 2017 U.S. Open after overcoming foot surgery. Playing in Margaret Court Arena, Stephens lost in three sets to Zhang Shuai 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-2. She said there will be times when things are tough and times when everything is on an extreme high, but no panic is needed.

No. 5 seed Williams crumbled next, being defeated by unseeded Belinda Bencic in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5. Williams had a remarkable tennis season last year, finishing as runner-up in two of four Grand Slam finals. Bencic was a former top-10 player and has since returned from having wrist surgery.

10-seed Vandeweghe was the last to go in the first round after finishing as a semifinalist last year. Hungarian Timea Babos completed the 7-6(4), 6-2 upset in Hisense Arena. Vandeweghe said she was suffering from the flu in her loss.

All three women – Stephens, Williams and Vandeweghe – were part of the All-American semifinalists round in the U.S. Open last year. Madison Keys was the fourth semifinalist who hasn’t lost as of yet heading to the third round in the Aussie Open.


Second Round

Britain Johanna Konta suffered her loss to Lucky Loser Bernarda Pera. Pera lost initially in the qualifying round, but earned a spot in the main draw after Margarita Gasparyan withdrew. Konta simply could not find her game losing in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.

One of the biggest shocks was the defeat of world No.3 Garbine Muguruza by Hsieh Su-wei. Muguruza attempted a comeback after being down 5-2 in the first set, but Su-wei momentum carried her on to a 7-6, 6-4 victory. Su-wei has won before against a top-ranked opponent, beating Konta in the French Open last year.

Stan Wawrinka hadn’t played much since Wimbledon after undergoing left knee surgery. It showed in his second-round loss to American Tennys Sandgren. Sandgren won in straight sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, his first grand slam match win. Wawrinka was the champion of the Australian Open back in 2014, with his most recent win in 2016 at the U.S. Open.┬áIt’s possible Wawrinka may need to take some more time off to make sure his knee is ready. Only time will tell.

Be Prepared…

Be ready for the possible and the impossible. Do not always count the underdogs out simply because they’re not seeded in a tournament or highly ranked in the world. The players many are used to seeing succeed are not getting any younger.

The impossible continues to happen as unseeded players are taking out the top contenders, whereas the possible is just over the horizon. A chance for a no-name player to take the crown and hold it high.

Make sure to stay tuned!

Diamond Holton

Diamond Holton

--TENNIS AND WASHINGTON MYSTICS BEAT WRITER-- Going into my second year covering Tennis and my first year covering the Washington Mystics, I'm always learning and engaging within my craft. Writing has always been my first love and how exciting it is to add sports in the mix!