AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Sometimes the transition from juniors to pros is long and arduous - and then there's Ana Konjuh. The Croat, who just turned 16 years old four days ago, pulled off a massive upset in her debut at the WTA-level on Tuesday night, stunning Roberta Vinci at the ASB Classic.
Konjuh, who had a breakthrough 2013 season in the juniors - she won the Australian and US Opens and rose to No.1 - couldn't have made a more impressive start to her 2014 season, rallying from a set and a break down against the No.14-ranked, No.1-seeded Vinci, eventually outslugging her, 36 64 62.
"It was a great experience - it was a great match and I hope I'll have a few more like this in the future," Konjuh said. "I'm just really happy to be here and have a chance to play with these great players."
Konjuh was asked if she had spoken to her family yet. "Yeah," she said, "my mom was going crazy!"
That wasn't the first surprise of the day, either. Three more seeds went out earlier in the day, with No.4 seed Sorana Cirstea falling to Canadian qualifier Sharon Fichman, 61 64, No.6 seed Lucie Safarova falling to Ayumi Morita, 76(2) 63, and No.8 seed Karin Knapp losing to Julia Goerges, 46 76(3) 76(2).
There were two seeds who survived though, beginning with No.3 seed Kirsten Flipkens, who edged Monica Puig in a tight two-setter, 64 75. Ana Ivanovic, the No.2 seed, followed her into the next round with a 75 76(2) win over Alison Riske, clawing out of a 5-3 hole - and five set points - in the second set.
"She played really well and really aggressive today," Ivanovic said of Riske. "I'm happy with the way I played in the second set. I kept fighting and managed to win in two sets, which was really good for me."
The press picked up on some self-talk from Ivanovic in the match - they asked her about it afterwards.
"I was just a bit nervous, so I just tried to encourage myself," Ivanovic said. "Sometimes it was a bit of frustration too, and those things are very normal after not having competition for a few months. But most of it I tried to keep as positive as possible and I mostly just tried to motivate myself out there."