Dayana Yastremska eyes the end of an era
Fresh off her run to the Adelaide final, the 19-year-old dropped just two games to Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan and will face Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday. Now coached by Sascha Bajin, who worked with Wozniacki for one year, Yastremska is not shy about her 2020 ambitions.
"It's to win a Grand Slam," Yastremska said, when asked what her goals were for the season. "But I have a lot of goals. They are small. I hope you are going to see them in reality."
If Yastremska wants to check off that goal here in Melbourne, it will mean ending Wozniacki's career in the second round.
"I don't really think about that. Just yesterday I read that it's her last tournament. I don't want to talk too much about that. It's just another match for me. For her, I don't know. I think it will be an interesting match tomorrow. Very emotional."
Yastremska won their only prior meeting, a 6-4, 6-4 win in Cincinnati last summer.
"Maybe [being coached by Sascha is an advantage] because he knows her more for sure. He knows small details. But I have my own opinion about her and how I have to play with her. For sure I will talk with Sascha about everything, but when you're on court you don't bother with tactics. You just play the way you feel."
The non-luck of the draw
It was tough luck for Marketa Vondrousova and Jennifer Brady when the draw came out. Both women showed great form to start the season. Brady tallied wins over No.1 Ashleigh Barty and Maria Sharapova in Brisbane. Vondrousova threw down three bagel sets en route to the quarterfinals in Adelaide, her first tournament since Wimbledon after undergoing wrist surgery.
Despite their form and threat for a good run in Melbourne, both bowed out in the first round to two-time major champions.
Vondrousova drew Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round and the Russian summoned some of her best tennis to hold off the 20-year-old Czech talent, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to score her first win at Melbourne Park since 2017.
In the much-anticipated opener between Brady and No.4 seed Simona Halep, the Romanian saved three set points in the opening set to come back and win 7-6(5), 6-1.
Bad luck for both Brady and Vondrousova, but there was a lot to like about their tennis in January. It bodes well for their respective seasons.
Johanna Konta's 'load management'
The Brit bowed out to an on-song Ons Jabeur, 6-4, 6-2, but she leaves Australia feeling positive about the status of her rehabilitated knee. The World No.13 shut down her season after the US Open due to injury. She took opening losses in Brisbane and Melbourne, but says the knee felt better with each match she played.
"I knew that by taking a decision to come play here, I was opening myself up to potentially it not going well or for it to be difficult," Konta told reporters.
"It's always difficult to come back after not playing a certain amount of time. But what was good today was my knee felt quite good, and it was actually even better than Brisbane. That's a very positive thing for me, especially for where I was in September."
Konta said it will take time to get her knee back to tournament strength.
"The way that I was coming back to playing tennis, it was all about moderating kind of the load levels of how much I do one day and then bringing it back down and then bringing it back up and [back and forth].
"That's just to reintroduce my knee to loading and to consistent loading to then hopefully then it being able to withstand hopefully back-to-back high loads when I'm playing a tournament, for example, when I'm playing matches all the way to the end."
Simona's deja vu
Once again, Simona Halep found herself facing a big hitter in the first round of the Australian Open. Once again she found herself on the ground mid-match, after taking a rough fall that left her with a taped-up wrist.
The good news for Halep: last time she took a first-round tumble in Melbourne, she found herself in the final two weeks later.
"I don't know why in the first round always I fall down," Halep told reporters, laughing. "Maybe it's a good sign. Let's hope for that."
Stats of the Day
Playing first set at a Slam in two years, CiCi Bellis dished out a bagel. The 20-year-old defeated Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2 and will face Karolina Muchova in the second round. Now ranked No.600, Bellis is into the second round of a Slam for the first time since 2017 Roland Garros.
With her 6-3, 6-4 loss to Donna Vekic, Maria Sharapova has lost in the first round of three consecutive Slams for the first time in her career. The Russian is set to fall outside the Top 350 after the Australian Open. Read Sharapova's thoughts about her future here.
Social Post of the Day
The Hulk? We'll believe it when we see it, Ash.
Quote of the Day
Maria Sakkari, on whether she'd like to see a greek restaurant in Melbourne name a dish after her the way Stefanos Tsitsipas has "The Stefanos Souvlaki".
"Maybe another dish. We leave that for Stefanos, and we say moussaka or pastitsio. Moussakkari! Make sure you tweet it. Moussakkari. If I'm gonna use it, you get royalties, 10%.
You are a legend! 10% I won’t forget!!— Maria Sakkari (@mariasakkari) January 21, 2020