Big time tennis in Auckland is going on, but the women’s side will have to go on without defending champion Lauren Davis, as she was knocked out in the first round by another American Sachia Vickery.
It was a short defense at Stanley Street for Davis, as she was dispatched 1- 6, 2 – 6 in just over an hour.
Auckland is where defenders go to die, it would seem, as the same fate has befallen others, including Zheng JIe and Venus William in 2013 and 2016, so perhaps Davis can take some small comfort that she is in good company.
No one expected Davis to win last year and expectations were low for this year, just not first-round low.
Davis saw her ranking drop into the 70s following the loss against an opponent she has beaten three times previously.
“I definitely didn’t feel my best,” Davis said. “I felt a bit discombobulated out there, a bit disconnected. I was going for my shots way too early and just not patient enough. But I’ll take what I can away from the match and move forward.”
The 2017 ASB Classic, which has since become to be known as the ATP Auckland Open, was the first career win at the top level for Davis, so this was her first title defense and she obviously had hoped for better.
Things went awry for her almost immediately, as she lost her first two service games and her shots were erratic and ineffective against the power of Vickery.
Davis’ serve let her down as well. She managed one break of Vickery in the fifth game of the first set, only to surrender it right back in the next game.
Out of such adversity, champions are born, at least, that is the narrative we all favour, so it remains to be seen if Davis can grow from the experience, or if she will fade.
The history of the tournament has not been kind to southern hemisphere players from Australia and New Zealand. For the men, Chris Lewis was the last Kiwi winner in 1985. Belinda Cordwell is the only woman to make it to the finals for New Zealand, in 1989.