Aussie Open: Top Seed Halep, Venus Through As Home Hope Ousted By Raonic

Jan 15 - by AFP for SportPesa News

The Romanian had to dig deep against the woman who defeated her in last year's US Open first round, eventually winning 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-2 victory

Simona Halep of Romania plays a backhand in her first round match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia during day two of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 15, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. PHOTO/GettyImages

  • World number one Simona Halep battled through to the Australian Open second round Tuesday with a come-from-behind win over Kaia Kanepi to stay in the tournament
  • The French Open champion was a finalist at Melbourne Park last year and will be looking for a major improvement to go deep this year after such a shaky start against the world number 71
  • Canadian Milos Raonic unleashed a "scary" display of ruthless serving to break the hearts of home fans and dismantle an ailing Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 on Tuesday
  • Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams turned back the clock to stage a stirring come-from-behind victory and reach the second round of the Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia- World number one Simona Halep battled through to the Australian Open second round Tuesday with a come-from-behind win over Kaia Kanepi to stay in the tournament.

The Romanian had to dig deep against the woman who defeated her in last year's US Open first round, eventually winning 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-2 victory.

The French Open champion was a finalist at Melbourne Park last year and will be looking for a major improvement to go deep this year after such a shaky start against the world number 71.

"It is always difficult to play Kaia," said Halep, who raged in frustration at her support team at times before finally taking control of the match in the third set.

The 27-year-old top seed showed no sign of the back injury that ended her season prematurely last year, instead she simply struggled to cope with the Estonian's powerful groundstrokes.

Halep's horror show at Flushing Meadows would have been repeated if Kanepi had not undermined her own cause with a mammoth 62 unforced errors and five double faults.

She outgunned Halep with 40 winners to 25, underlining her opponent's recent struggles.

Halep came to Melbourne Park on a five-match losing streak, equalling the worst run of her career.

She hopes to make amends after losing an epic final to Caroline Wozniacki last year in a defeat she said "broke me a little bit" until she claimed her own maiden Slam at Roland Garros.

Kyrgios ousted

Canadian Milos Raonic unleashed a "scary" display of ruthless serving to break the hearts of home fans and dismantle an ailing Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 on Tuesday.

The Canadian 16th seed blasted into the second round of the Australian Open in 1hr 56min, dropping just 11 points on his own serve against a forlorn Kyrgios, who needed treatment several times on a taped up knee.

"When I got to 3-3, it just flared up," a dejected Kyrgios told the physio during a break at the end of the first set. 

"Every time I rock back on my serve I feel it. I did an extended warm-up, I warmed up properly. I don't understand," he complained.

Raonic said he didn't want to comment about his hampered opponent's troubles after producing a near flawless exhibition of precision and power serving. 

"I don't want to say too much. It always comes down to a few points here and there," said the former world number three who now faces the 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in a blockbuster second-round clash on Thursday.

"It's always tough against Nick anyways. Now it's on to the next one."

Kyrgios refused to blame the knee after the match. 

"It was nothing to do with my loss. He was way too good for me," he said. "I've never seen serving as good as that. Milos played scary."

Venus through

It is the first time that Kyrgios, who reached the last 16 a year ago, has failed to get past the first round in six appearances at his home Grand Slam.

Raonic has reached one Slam final in 2016 at Wimbledon where he lost to Andy Murray. 

Earlier that year he achieved his best Australian Open result by reaching the semi-final, where he also lost to the Scot.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams turned back the clock to stage a stirring come-from-behind victory and reach the second round of the Australian Open Tuesday.

The unseeded 38-year-old American lost the first set to 25th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania but clawed her way to a gutsy 7-6 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 win in two hours 39 minutes.

"It was a real marathon, it was really hard to get on top of her," said the American, who played her first Australian Open in 1998.

"She was in great form and it was pretty hairy there, a second set tie-breaker, you never know if you're going to be in or out.

"I'm hoping this tough match will set me up for the rest of the tournament."

Williams, who has reached the final at Melbourne Park twice, most recently in 2017 when she lost to sister Serena, will meet Alize Cornet of France next.