Rafael Nadal suffers five set defeat to Fernando Verdasco
Simona Halep loses in straight sets to Shuai Zhang
Wawrinka, Ferrer and Muguruza score wins
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA- Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep were the main casualties in an upset filled day two of the Australian Open.
Nadal battled for four hours and 45 minutes with fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, but came out on the wrong end of the scoreboard. The former champion lost in five sets 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.
Meanwhile in the women’s draw there was an even bigger upset as second seed Halep was unceremoniously dumped out by Shuai Zhang in straight sets. The world number 133 put on the performance of her life to run away a 6-4, 6-3 winner.
Seven years removed since their epic semi final battle in the 2009 Australian Open, Verdasco and Nadal met again in the first round in 2016.
Both are seemingly past their best, but that did not stop them producing another match for the ages.
Verdasco took a tight first set on a tiebreaker 8-6, but in the second Nadal gained the advantage with an early break. Verdasco was able to break back but the world number five quickly re-established his advantage before serving out the set.
The momentum carried into set three with another early break for Nadal. This time he would not let his opponent back into the set. The former world number one wrapped it with another break to take the set 6-3.
The pair exchanged breaks in a tight fourth set that once again went to a tiebreak. Verdasco again took control in the breaker and levelled the scores at two sets a piece.
An unbelievable second set started with Nadal grabbing an early break and consolidating with a hold. That seemed to light a fire under Verdasco who started finding the court with his thumping forehand. The world number 45 won six straight games, finishing it off with another booming forehand winner to earn sweet revenge over Nadal.
For some reason, it just does not seem to happen for the world number two in grand slams. Dumped out early at Roland Garros and Wimbledon last year, and missing out on a golden chance at the US Open has now been followed with a first round exit in the Australian Open.
Her opponent, Zhang of China, played the match of her career to defeat the Romanian in straight sets- the biggest upset in the tournament so far.
It was a break-filled first set that saw five losses of serve, but the most important one went the way of the Chinese who broke for the first set 6-4. In the Second set, Halep appeared to be fighting back with a break of serve, but Zhang upped her game to break twice and take the match in straight sets.
That has left the bottom section wide open for a surprise semi finalist.
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