MELBOURNE, Australia — Shelby Rogers thoroughly dominated the No. 4 player in the world, Simona Halep. A teary-eyed CoCo Vandeweghe battled nausea to outlast another top-20 veteran, Roberta Vinci.
And the grande dame of the women’s tour, 36-year-old Venus Williams, refused to cede the spotlight for at least another match at the Australian Open, beating Kateryna Kozlova in the first round of her 73rd career Grand Slam tournament, an Open-era record.
It’s been a fast start for many of the 32 Americans in the men’s and women’s singles draw in Melbourne – both the old guard and the unproven youngsters of the next generation. Thirteen won their first-round matches on Monday, compared to six losses – two of which were to American opponents.
On Tuesday, Serena Williams added to the America’s success, beating Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-3 in her quest for her 23rd Grand Slam title.
The power-hitting Rogers scored the biggest upset Monday.
Newly confident after her surprising run to the French Open quarterfinals last year, the 24-year-old South Carolina native outplayed Halep with an aggressive, all-court game, winning 6-3, 6-1.
Vandeweghe fell to her knees with nausea while trailing in the second set of her match against Vinci, but after an extended medical timeout and a couple sips of a soft drink, she recovered to break back and finish off a 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory.
Also Monday, Roger Federer returned from a six-month layoff to beat fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, and Andy Murray advanced to the second round with a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko.
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