Johanna Konta defeated Venus Williams in the first round
The 2016 Australian Open started on the 18th January under a cloud, as details emerged of a match-fixing scandal on tour. Although it’s no secret tennis is a huge sport for betting purposes, it was never considered the top players could be involved in fixing. However, a former player from South America has told the BBC that match-fixing is common place and even some of the elite players are a little bit dirty in some way.
This may have left a sour taste in the mouth ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam tournament but players were adamant they will be happy to help in any way they can, to prevent the sport from becoming tarnished in this way.
So on to the actual tennis and there were some early casualties on the opening days of this year’s Australian Open. Venus Williams, who showed signs of rediscovering some of her old form last year, was knocked out in the first round by Great Britain’s Johanna Konta, 6-4, 6-2. Williams came in to the tournament as the 8th seed and will be very disappointed to go out to a player who was making her debut in Melbourne at the age of 24.
However, Venus Williams was not the only big name player to find their tournament ending much earlier than expected. Caroline Wozniacki, the 16th seed, took the first set in her match against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-1 and there appeared to be no problems for the former world number one. Then, a lost tie-break in the second set and injured ankle in the third, resulted in a three set defeat for the Dane.
That being said, Wozniacki was not the biggest casualty in the women’s draw, as number two seed Simona Halep was eliminated by Shuai Zhang, ranked 133rd in the world. It was a stunning defeat for the world number two and opens up the old questions regarding who will actually give Serena Williams a sustained challenge on the WTA Tour.
Upsets were not confined to the women’s draw, as Rafael Nadal lost in the opening round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career. The Spaniard’s form was promising towards the end of 2015 and the start of the new year, however, this defeat will be seen as a huge setback. Similarly to the WTA Tour, will there be a player this season on the ATP Tour, who can challenge Novak Djokovic consistently? At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be anyone who can step up to the mark.
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