Incredible moment stuns Wimbledon
LONDON turned into upset city on Monday as highly fancied stars suffered unexpected losses in the opening round at Wimbledon, while the Australians on show had a mixed day.
Teenage sensation Cori Gauff was the highlight of day one, stunning tennis legend Venus Williams in straight sets. The 15-year-old became the youngest ever player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era after winning her way through to the year's third grand slam and she showed she has bigger plans than just making up the numbers.
The American young gun showed her class to take the first set 6-4 and demonstrated composure well beyond her years to keep the nerves at bay and serve out the second set for a 6-4 6-4 victory over Williams, who is 24 years Gauff's senior.
Gauff dropped her racquet on the grass and put her hand over her face in disbelief as she walked up the net to shake Williams' hand. She was trying to keep it together but her emotions flooded out and she started crying as the enormity of her achievement sunk in.
On Court No. 1, the crowd went absolutely bananas, joining in a standing ovation as Gauff's parents celebrated with gusto. Her dad was pumping his fists and her mum had her phone out to capture the moment.
"Honestly I don't really know how to feel, this was the first time I've ever cried after winning a match," Gauff said.
"I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm. I've never played on a court so big. I had to remind myself the lines on the court are the same size … everything else was bigger but the lines are the same and I told myself to stay calm."
Gauff said after qualifying for Wimbledon how much she idolised the Williams sisters and she had a message for Venus when the pair met at the net.
"I told her thankyou for everything she did and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her," Gauff said. "She's so inspiring, I always wanted to tell her that."
MORE BIG NAMES SENT PACKING
On the men's side of the draw Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were both dealt first-round exits. Jiri Vesely took four sets to ruin Zverev's Wimbledon campaign as the sixth seed failed to overturn his reputation as someone who fails to deliver in grand slams.
The 22-year-old German has long been tipped for big things but is yet to make it past the quarter-finals of a major, and admitted his confidence is shot after the 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5 defeat.
"It was kind of a typical grand slam match for me. I started off well, then one or two things don't go my way, and everything … falls apart," Zverev said.
"I'm not very high on confidence right now. When I get to the important moments I had, what, five, six break points in the fourth set alone, can't take any of those. I had a 0-40 and a 15-40. I'm down one break point myself and he takes it immediately, where I miss an easy volley.
"I didn't lose this match on tennis. It's just, yeah, my confidence is below zero right now.
"Physically I'm fine. I can play 10 sets, no problem. I don't really get tired. Mentally, I mean, I get down on myself a lot. But, yeah, I don't think it's either of those because mentally I showed I'm quite strong in the last few years. It's different things I think right now."
Pressed on what those "different things" are, Zverev said they were personal and declined to go into detail about them.
Meanwhile, unseeded Italian Thomas Fabbiano out-muscled world No. 6 Tsitsipas over five thrilling sets. Tsitsipas has enjoyed an impressive run in 2019, beating Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open semi-finals, winning a title in Marseille, losing to Federer in the final of a Dubai tournament in March and defeating Rafael Nadal as he qualified for the final of the Madrid Open.
But the 20-year-old came crashing down to earth against Fabbiano. He produced the goods in an exciting fourth-set tiebreak to send the match to a decider but his lesser-ranked opponent, coming in at 89 in the world, held firm when it mattered most to win 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-3.
Tsitsipas said he didn't deserve to win, even though his fighting spirit helped him stretch things out to five sets.
"He was just playing better. I wouldn't actually deserve the victory today even if I would have won because I didn't play well," Tsitsipas said. "He played much better today.
"I think the way I played, it should have been in three (sets), not five. I don't know how I got to five. I guess with my fighting spirit, somehow I managed to win those two sets.
"Regarding that, he was just much more solid than me."
Aussie qualifier Alexei Popyrin was on the right side of a surprise result, getting the best of Spanish star Pablo Carreno Busta.
The teenager, ranked 101st in the world, smoked 56 winners to advance to the second round with a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-2 victory over the world No. 50.
Popyrin, 19, made waves Down Under when he defeated Mischa Zverev and this year's French Open finalist Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open in January and he upped the ante again at a grand slam in what was his first ever appearance at Wimbledon.
On the women's side, world No. 2 Naomi Osaka was devastated after being upset in straight sets 7-6 6-2 by the unseeded Yulia Putintseva in a centre court shock. The Japanese star was on the verge of tears in her post-match press conference, asking to leave midway through it before her emotions boiled over.
French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova was also sensationally knocked out on day one at the All England Club. After falling to Ash Barty in the final at Roland Garros, Vondrousova - ranked 16th at Wimbledon - tumbled out with a 6-4 6-4 loss to Madison Brengle, while 10th seed Aryna Sabalenka lost 6-2 6-4 to the unseeded Magdaléna Rybáriková.
AUSSIE'S SAD ADMISSION AFTER IMPLOSION
Daria Gavrilova imploded in her first round Wimbledon encounter against Elina Svitolina, dropping eight consecutive games to lose in straight sets.
The Aussie star was matching her Ukrainian opponent for much of the first set as both players broke before Svitolina took charge late in the opener to break once again for a 6-5 lead and she served it out 7-5 in 44 minutes.
The second set was a much different affair as the No. 8 seed played near flawless tennis while Gavrilova suffered from foot and knee issues and was unable to mount a serious challenge with the match on the line.
She dropped the second set in just 21 minutes to complete a sad end to her 2019 campaign at the All England Club. She recorded five double faults and 22 unforced errors in a disappointing display.
Holding her stomach with her head down, Gavrilova walked to the net to shake hands with Svitolina but as she blew kisses to the appreciative crowd, the Australian was quick to leave Court 18.
The loss was Gavrilova's third grand slam first-round defeat of the year following early departures at the Australian and French Open, in a season where she's been plagued by plantar fasciitis in her foot and Achilles tendonitis.
Gavrilova was gutted after the defeat and said she may need to consider taking time off from tennis.
"I'm not in a good headspace right now," she said. "It could be the decision I have to make (because) probably my wellbeing comes first before trying to be a good tennis player.
"And I just have to break the cycle ... I've been having days where I'm super-motivated and up-and-about, and then there's days where I'm like, 'I'm struggling'.
"Same with my injuries. There's days where I'm fine; I don't feel anything with the Achilles and the plantar fasciitis, and there's days where's it just not good.
"In Eastbourne (after) I played this long match, I got out of bed and I was really struggling to put any weight on my feet.
"So if that's going to be my tennis career, I'm not sure that's how I want to do it.
"But the scary part is if I do take time off, it's not a guarantee that it's going to get much better."
Fellow Australian Astra Sharma also suffered a straight sets loss to Sofia Kenin. Sharma put up a fight but lost 6-4 6-2 in one hour and five minutes.
Kenin blasted 16 winners and broke Sharma's serve three times to advance to the second round for the second straight year.
The biggest names in Australian tennis, Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios, will be in action on Tuesday as they begin their tournaments on day two at Wimbledon. Kyrgios faces countryman Jordan Thompson while newly crowned World No. 1 Barty plays Zheng Saisai of China.