American Sloane Stephens won her first match in Melbourne since 2014 as she defeated fellow American Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-2 in the Australian Open first round on Monday.
“I thought I played well, solid. It’s not ever easy playing someone from your own country, so I was happy to be through,” said Stephens. “I think that’s what makes her so dangerous is she does a lot of different things so well. I knew from the first point I was going to have to expect a lot of different things. I thought I handled it well, so that was good.”
The 2013 Australian Open semifinalist and 2017 U.S. Open champion hadn’t won Down Under since 2014, and is now into the second round where she will face Hungary’s Timea Babos.
Stephens led the charge of American women in action on the tournament’s first day, which also included Danielle Collins comeback victory over 14th seeded German Julia Goerges. Collins fought back from a set down to win 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. The win puts her into a matchup with fellow American Sachia Vickery, who also came back from a set down in her first-round victory as she won 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 against Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium.
Former champion Maria Sharapova wasted no time advancing to the second round as she rolled past Great Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0. Sharapova faces Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson next. Peterson won 6-4, 6-1 over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki began her campaign in Melbourne with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Alison Van Uytvanck. The third-seeded Wozniacki saved both of the break points she faced and hit 21 winners to just 16 unforced errors to move through in one hour and 33 minutes.
The Dane takes on Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.