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Nadal and Halep lose in Aussie Opener

Ramona Halep (left) shaking hands with Zhang Shuai (right) after being upset in first round.

Ramona Halep (left) shaking hands with Zhang Shuai (right) after being upset in first round.

Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep are both out after just one round at the 2016 Australian Open. Nadal, the No. 5 men’s tennis player, was shocked by his fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Halep, the second-ranked world women’s tennis player, was sent packing after being upset by Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3.

It could not have been a worse start to the 2016 season for Nadal. Last season, for the first time in a decade, Nadal failed to make a Major Finals; actually he never made it past the quarterfinals of any of the tournament and now he is out immediately at the Australian Open.

After missing a lot of the fall in 2014, Nadal’s confidence was in question last year. This loss certainly won’t help the matter.

“[I] don’t want to compare to last year, because last year was a different issue,” Nadal said. “But this year, the real thing is, I was not aggressive enough with my forehand during the whole match. I didn’t feel it. I tried. I [fought]. I was ready to do it, and I didn’t. So I am sad for that.”

Nadal knew it was an unlucky draft when he got paired with his 6-foot-2, 32-year-old countryman who has a very hard shot and like Nadal is a lefty. Like any bigger hitter in anything, when Verdasco swings for the fences like he does he misses a lot, but when he connects he sends 100-mile per hour heaters at his opponent and he never let up the pace against Nadal. At the end of a four-hour long match, Nadal could not keep up.

Shuai, a Chinese qualifier and the worlds No. 133 ranked women’s player, won her first grand slam event in her 15th try. Halep was dealing with a Achilles injury and suffering from a cold during her match. The combination of her not being at her best and a a veteran trying to get her first bit of glory was a losing on for Halep.

“I think it wasn’t my good day, but I give her a lot of credit because I think she played really well,” Halep said. “She played without fear, and she hit every ball.”

Serena advance in return, Venus out after one

There was a worry heading into the Australian Open how Serena Williams’ knee would hold up, but she says she “didn’t feel it all” in her nearly two hour long match against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.

Williams had not appeared in any tournament’s since her semifinal loss in the US Open but beat Giorgi in straight-sets 6-4, 7-5 with the heat at a blistering 90 degrees.

“”It wasn’t very easy,” Williams said. “She obviously plays really well and knows how to hit her shots. I haven’t played in a competitive match in a really long time but I think it was really good for me to come out here and get through it. It wasn’t quick but that works to my advantage as well. I was able to stay in it and stay calm today, and I think that’s what matters most. I’m happy to be back out there.”

Her sister lost in the firstrou nd of the Australian Open for a second time in three years after falling to Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2. Konta was able to move across the court with ease and never let Venus Williams in the match. Williams has a resurgent 2015 season but Konta has been on the rise, going from 150 last year for No. 47 this year. She went 24-4 in 2015.

Wozniacki upset by Putintseva

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was upset bu Kazahstan’s Yulia Putintseva 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

Wozniacki might have blown Putintseva away on the scorecard of in her first set but it was not a great start for her. She had a chance to win it in two, but she did not close it out, allowed her opponent back into the match and in the third her misses got the best of her. Wozniacki, the No. 18 player and 16th seed, has gotten progressively worst at the Australian Open since she went tot he semifinals in 2011. She was out after the quarterfinals in 2012, fourth round in 2013, third in 2014, second last year and now first round.

“I would say it’s a pretty s**** start to to the season,” Wozniacki said. “It wasn’t a pretty first set but I got it done and really should have closed it off in two. I let her back into the match, and it was basically my own fault that I’m not here as a winner.”

Putintseva will play Han Xinyun in the second round. The Chinese wildcard beat Mariana Duque 6-2, 2-1 before Duque retired.

Easy starts for Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Nishikori and Ferrer

While Nadal was shocked as the No. 5 seed in the Australian Open, other top ranked players kicked off their quest to win the Aussie Open with definitive victories.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. No. 2 Andy Murray beat Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. No. 3 Roger Federer beat Nikoloz Basilashvil 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. No. 7 Kei Nishikori beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. No. 8 Danny Ferrer beat Peter Gojoxczyk 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Querrey out but Isner and Johnson prevail

Despite winning the first two sets against Dušan Lajović. The heat seemed to have gotten to the high-profile American. The matched was tied at two sets each 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

No. 10 John Isner was able to pull through and beat Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (9-7), 3-6 to advance to the second round, where he will face Marcel Granollers. No. 31 Steve Johnson will play Thomaz Bellucci in the second round after beating Aljaz Beden in the opening round, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

American Rajeev Ram upset No. 11 Kevin Anderson when the South African retired in the fourth set. Ram was winning the match at the time 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 3-0.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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