The surprise Olympic tennis champion Monica Puig confirmed her standing with an easy first-round win on the first day of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Fourth-seed Simona Halep made an early exit.
The 23-year-old Monica Puig took just 53 minutes to send Romania's Patricia Maria Tig back to the locker room. She finished the match 6-0, 6-1.
Puig was the surprise champion at last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics as she became Puerto Rico's first-ever gold-medal winner. She beat Angelique Kerber in the final.
Fourth seed Simon Halep (top photo left) went down 6-3, 6-1 in the first round to American Shelby Rogers (top photo right) in an even quicker time than Tig, in 46 minutes. The 24-year-old Rogers out-hit the world number 4 Halep, who called for the trainer after the first set to treat a leg injury. It is the second year in a row that the Romanian has exited early at Melbourne Park. "There are no easy matches at this level ... so I'm happy to get through and definitely take confidence from what I did today," Rogers said in her on-court interview.
The 16-year-old Australian Destanee Aiava became the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a major on Monday but her match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to German qualifier Mona Barthel. Barthel, once world-ranked 23, has dropped out of the top 100 due to injuries.
Julia Goerges beat Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic in her first round match 3-6 6-3 6-4 and Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova in two sets.
In the men's draw, Germany's Mischa Zverev beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) 6-3 7-6(5) 6-4. Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic won the first set against Luca Vanni before the Italian retired injured. Fifth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan beat Andrey Kuznetsov but was taken to five sets. Australian Bernard Tomic beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-2 6-1 6-4. US player Ryan Harrison beat Nicolas Mahut of France 6-3 6-4 6-2.
France's Jeremy Chardy was leading 4-0 in the first set when Nicolas Almagro retired with a leg injury. "I'll take it, an easy match never hurts at a long tournament like this," Chardy said.
Other first day matches in Melbourne included world top ranked players in both the men's and women draws taking on players from Ukraine. Andy Murray played Ilya Marchenko and Angelique Kerber was to take on Lesia Tsurenko.
jm/kl (AP, dpa)