The top news and perhaps not as surprising as it may seem was the loss of the defending champion, Elena Ostapenko. There are three main reasons why it was not a surprise: Ostapenko had lost both previous matches played against Kateryna Kozlova; Ostapenko’s first serve is still a major liability; and she has had very inconsistent results since she won her second career singles title last September. Kozlova won 7-5, 6-3.
What was more surprising to me was Venus Williams’ loss to Qiang Wang. No offense to Wang, while she may have served well, she won the match because Williams made too many errors. However, credit must be given to the Chinese player for holding her nerves and closing out the match at 6-4, 7-5.
Sloane Stephens stepped up her game as she seems to like doing at the majors and crushed her opponent, Arantxa Rus, in less than fifty minutes. Stephens won 6-2, 6-0.
American Jennifer Brady staked her claim to the second round with a ruthless dismissal of Amandine Hesse; she won 6-1, 6-1.
The other American female, Madison Brengle, lost her match in three sets: 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
Of the three American men that played today, only Jared Donaldson was able to advance to the second round. He defeated a quality clay court player, Nicolas Jarry, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Taylor Fritz lost a heartbreaker. He had a two sets to one lead and lost to the qualifier, Guido Andreozzi [7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 3-6]. The third American was Denis Kudla; he, lost to the twenty-sixth seed, Damir Dzumhur, 4-6,2-6, 2-6.
The always charismatic Gael Monfils righted the ship after dropping the first set to his compatriot. The nineteen year old came out on fire and Monfils was flat; however, he found his game in the second set and defeated Elliot Benchetrit 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
The veteran, Fernando Verdasco, had to go the distance against his opponent. Yoshihito Nishioka pushed him and if not for cramping, may have won the match. To compound the issue, Verdasco had his usual serving woes but managed to win 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-5.
The second seed, Alexander Zverev, came through his first round match in flying colors: 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.
No seeded male players lost on day one; however, the women’s draw lost two top seeds: Jelena Ostapenko and Venus Williams. Johanna Konta was the third women’s seed to fall, she lost to Yulia Putintseva. Putintseva is a very dangerous player and when she gets hot, she can challenge the best and today she was hot; she won 6-4, 6-3.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: Zimbio.com (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Europe: Jelena Ostapenko).