After No. 16 seed Caroline Wozniacki was defeated by Yulia Putintseva on Monday, there were plenty more big upsets Tuesday at the Australian Open, as both world No. 2 Simona Halep and eighth-seeded Venus Williams went down in first round action.
Halep was knocked out of the Aussie by Zhang Shuai, 6-4, 6-3, who was a qualifier in the tournament and the 133rd-ranked player in the world; one of the worst first-round upsets in Australian Open history.
Halep was said to be dealing with an Achilles injury and suffering from a cold, but still nobody could have pegged Zhang upsetting her in straight sets. It was Zhang’s first victory in a Grand Slam main singles draw on her 15th attempt.
The moment was pretty sweet. Zhang – and her coach sitting in the crowd – were overcome with emotion following the match. In an on-court interview after the victory, the reality of the situation seemed to overwhelm Zhang as she broke down in tears.
“I’m so excited and happy,” Zhang told the Guardian. “I want to thank my coach and parents and to everybody for supporting me. I think today is my best moment.“
In another shocking upset, Britain’s 47th-ranked Johanna Konta handily defeated eighth seed Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-2. Konta told the Guadian, “When the draw came out and I saw who I was playing, I thought, ‘OK, hope I stay out there for more than an hour.” The 24-year-old beat Williams, who was the oldest player in the draw at 35-years-old, in 79 minutes. When the BBC asked Konta about Williams’ age being a factor, she quickly dismissed it.
“It’s irrelevant how old she is because she’s such a champion with so much experience and knowledge,” said Konta.
The upsets are impressive, and they weren’t the only ones. In total, 12 of the 32 seeded players in the women’s draw were ousted in the first round. Things are already getting crazy Down Under.