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  • 2017 runner-up Venus Williams suffers a surprise upset against Swiss talent Belinda Bencic (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
While the local tennis fans celebrate a promising start for the Aussie team, the US one has shrunken significantly. Only three out of 15 competitors made it to the second round. The first day of the 2018 Australian Open saw some surprising upsets for a number of top players.
By
Maria Schaller

15 Jan 2018 - 10:48 PM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2018 - 9:59 AM

Within only a couple of hours, the three high-ranked American female players were sent packing.

Last year´s finalist Venus Williams, the oldest player in the field at 37 years and 212 days, was overrun by 20-year-old Swiss talent Belinda Bencic.

Reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens lost to Zhang Shuai of China. And fellow US player Coco Vandeweghe, weakened by the flu, was defeated by Timea Babos from Hungary.

Her bizarre argument over a shortage of bananas on the court was arguably the low point of a miserable day for the US team. 

To make matters worse, the male counterparts couldn´t restore the team´s honour.

Jack Sock, ranked number nine in the world, lost to Yuichi Sugita from Japan and John Isner (16) to Aussie hopeful Matthew Ebden. 

He was alongside a number of Australians who made it to the second round.

Nick Kyrgios, Daria Gavrilova, and John Millman went through in straight sets.

Olivia Rogowska won an all-Aussie battle with Jaimee Fourlis.

Sam Stosur, however, was beaten by Monica Puig. 

And, of course, there was “Rafa”.

The Spanish world number one, who entered Rod Laver Arena in a gaudy pink and sleeveless combo, only dropped three games in his opening match against Victor Estrella Burgos (Dom).

Japan´s Yoshihito Nishioka secured a hard-earned win over Germany´s Philipp Kohlschreiber in a five-setter.

Luksika Kumkhum from Thailand stunned her opponent, Sweden´s Johanna Larsson.

And China´s Duan Ying-Ying won comfortably against Mariana Duque-Marino from Colombia.

But there is much more to come.

Day 2 will feature as many as five former Melbourne champions, including last year´s winner Roger Federer.

“I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament, it should not be the case,” the Swiss “maestro” jokes ahead of his first round clash with Slovenia´s Aljaz Bedene.

Six-time Melbourne winner Novak Djokovic will face Donald Young (US).

Due to an elbow injury, the Serb hasn’t played competitively since Wimbledon last July.

The same applies to 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka from Switzerland, who suffered a knee injury. “Stan the man”, as he is often billed, will take it up with Ricardas Bernkis from Lithuania.

South Korean hopeful Hyeon Chung will battle it out with Germany´s Mischa Zverev.

In the Women´s draw, Angelique Kerber, who took home the trophy in 2016, is about to play fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam.

2008 champion Maria Sharapova will face a German hopeful too, Tatjana Maria. The Russian returns to Melbourne Park after being forced to be absent last year folloging her doping ban.

World number one, Simona Halep, will be playing Aussie teen Destanee Aiva.

Other Aussie contenders to look out for on day 2 include powerhouse Ash Barty (against Aryna Sabalenka) and Sydney finalist Alex De Minaur (Tomas Berdych).

China´s Qiang Wang has a tough challenge ahead with her first round clash against US Open finalist Madison Keys (US).

Youngster Naomi Osaka from Japan plays Slovakian Kristina Kucova.