MELBOURNE, Australia - While you were sleeping, here's what happened on Day 1 at the Australian Open...
Performance of the Day: Shelby Rogers.
A year ago at this time, Shelby Rogers was ranked No.146 and opted to skip the Australian Open to play ITFs in Florida. On Monday she coolly dispatched an injured No.4 seed Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-1, to win her first main draw match ever at the Australian Open.
Halep was hampered by tendinitis in her left knee, but no one was taking anything away from Rogers' complete performance.
"I think she played a very high standard," Halep said. "I had pain at my knee. For me, in the second set, it was difficult to move anymore, but she deserved to win. She was aggressive, and she hit very strong, the balls."
Rogers, 24, has quietly honed her game to become one of the more dangerous young opponents in the early rounds of big tournaments. Last year she won her first WTA final at the Rio Open and then stunned everyone with a run to the quarterfinals of the French Open, beating Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Elena Vesnina, and Irina-Camelia Begu en route.
"The biggest thing I took away from that was just that I can compete with the top players in the world and I'm good enough," Rogers said. "Little things here and there I need to work on, but I'm here. I need to believe in myself.
"So I have definitely carried that away from the French Open and just been enjoying it a little bit, I think. There has been a lot of positive feedback, which has been nice."
Injury concerns for Halep again.
Last season Halep started her 2016 campaign with an Achilles injury. This year it's knee tendinitis, which she began to feel at the end of the season at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Halep said the off-season rest helped but she felt the pain again in her first-round match at the Shenzhen Open and was on anti-inflammatories while she trained in Melbourne Park before the tournament.
"I had some anti-inflammatory before the match, and the previous days," she said. "But when you have the tension of the match, official match, the pressure, it comes harder. So I had harder pain, and I couldn't do what I wanted."
Halep said the injury does not require surgery, but she will get an MRI and decide on her next steps. "I'm a bit frustrated, but you cannot change much," she said after the loss, her second straight first-round exit from Melbourne. "I'm okay. Just looking ahead. It happens, and I just want to be well with the knee. And then I will think about the game."
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2017
Angelique Kerber survives her first test.
How do you say "Phew!" in German? "Puhhhhhh."
It was impossible not to let your mind wander after Lesia Tsurenko saved match point to force a third set against World No.1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber. Could Kerber actually go from saving match point and winning the title last year to losing from match point up in the first round this year?
Even Kerber let her mind wander a bit as she found herself in, what felt like, an unnecessary third set. "That was one moment when I was sitting on the bench. I remember the match from last year," she said after her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win. "It was, yeah, the opposite actually. I mean, I was down the match point. Here I was up the match point. I came to the third set. But it was just really a short moment that I was thinking about that match."
Aside from a nervy wobble when she served for the second set and was eventually broken twice to lose it, Kerber played a solid opening match. She hit just five unforced errors in the first set and shut down Tsurenko's game attempts to close the gap in the third set. To her credit, Kerber never panicked. Frustrated, yes. Panic, no.
"I'm on court to play my tennis," she said. "My tennis is like it is, to moving good, playing a lot of balls back and fighting. It's not changing because I'm the No. 1 now or the top seeded. On court I'm really focusing on playing my game and, yeah, running for every ball. I was actually not panicking at all."
Kerber plays her countrywoman Carina Witthoeft next.
Quote of the Day: "Girl, I don't know!"
Venus Williams gutted out a tough straight-set win over Kateryna Kozlova to win, 7-6,(5), 7-5 in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena. When Sam Smith asked on court how she keeps fending off these young challengers, Venus answered with a sassy, "Girl, I don't know!"
For a guaranteed smile to start your day, watch the entire interview below:
? #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2017
Whatcha watchin', Monica?
Monica Puig has been struggling with confidence to start her season, so she let out a huge sigh of relief after dropping just one game to Patricia Maria Tig to open her tournament. The 53-minute match meant Puig would hit the practice courts later in the day to fine-tune her game, but avoiding the first-round upset should relax her shoulders. She plays a seemingly in-form Mona Barthel next.
So what's Puig been doing to keep herself occupied in Melbourne? "A lot of room service and movies," she said, laughing.
"I watched Sully for the first time and I think it just became my favorite movie of all time.
"It's so well done and the story behind it is really amazing and it's quite inspiring how one person could pull off something that extraordinary. It's incredible."
Garbiñe Muguruza shrugs off injury concerns.
Muguruza came back from 1-4 down in the second set to beat Marina Erakovic 7-5, 6-4 to open her tournament. Muguruza called a medical time-out after the first set and went off-court as the trainer examined the abductor injury that forced her to retire from the Brisbane International semifinals a week ago. Muguruza said afterwards that the decision was more precautionary.
"I do feel it a little bit," the Spaniard said. "It's nothing really to worry - just more mental, because I was nervous [about it], too."
Daria Kasatkina's struggles to close return.
The No.23 seed bowed out 6-0, 7-6(5) to Peng Shuai after serving for the second set twice and leading 4-2 in the tiebreak. That's another tough loss for Kasatkina, who was shaping up to be one of the primary challengers to Angelique Kerber's path to the final.
The 19-year-old continues to search for her best at the Slams. After making the third round at her first four major appearances, she has now lost in the first round at back-to-back Slams.
Checking in on Jelena's World.
Jelena Jankovic says she's fitter than she was last season, when a shoulder injury and health scare, prevented her from finding her form. Now ranked No.54, the 31-year-old had to dig deep to knock out No.26 seed Laura Siegemund 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the first round. She'll play Julia Goerges next.
"There were a lot of things I should have done a lot better and a lot of room for improvement," Jankovic said. "I understand that. I'm very realistic. But a win is a win."
On her pre-season preparation:
"I started training for about a month in Dubai. I haven't competed in 2.5 months. You train and you hit a lot of balls and the practice court and the gym trying to prepare yourself, but then you step on the match court and it's a completely different situation. It's about handling those situations and playing under pressure and feeling comfortable in certain moments.
"That's what this sport is about. Anyone can hit those balls freely in practice. But in those crucial times, you have to be sure of yourself and play it right. That comes with playing and competing and getting that match toughness."
On her expectations:
"Being the player I was, I was No.1 in the world, many years in the Top 10, over 600 wins in my career, but I cannot [have] such big expectations of myself. But I still do sometimes. I know I'm capable of doing it and when things don't go my way I get disappointed with myself because some of the things I used to be able to do I'm not doing it at the moment. I have to stay positive and work and fight on the court. Hopefully, I can come back. We'll see."
Destanee Aiava turning heads with her game, not her name.
The 16-year-old from Melbourne became the first player born in the 2000s to play a main draw match at a Slam. She lost in straight sets to Mona Barthel, but she's a young, ambitious, powerful player to keep tabs on.
Q. Did you have a chance to talk to Serena when you did the Wilson racquet thing with her? Words of encouragement from her, advice?
DESTANEE AIAVA: Yeah, she told me to dream big and you'll achieve big. Yeah, she's quite a nice person. It was a really good experience to get to hit with her.
Q. After the game, Mona said, I wish I had served that well as a 16-year-old. How do you respond to that kind of praise?
DESTANEE AIAVA: That gives me a lot of confidence in my serve. Yeah, makes me feel good.
This post will be updated as play continues.