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Experience, youth gives U.S. solid start on Day 1 at Australian Open

January 18, 2016 10:36 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Defending champion and world No. 1 Serena Williams and teenage wild card Noah Rubin were two of seven Americans to earn victories on Day 1 of the 2016 Australian Open.

Williams (pictured above) defeated fearless Camila Giorgi, 6-4, 7-5, Monday in Rod Laver Arena, absorbing much of the Italian's free-swinging firepower. The 34-year-old was not at her very best, but having not played a tour-level event since her semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci at the US Open, she did enough to advance without exerting too much energy in the process.

Williams, who is one Grand Slam women's singles title away from matching Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22, will continue her bid for a seventh title in Melbourne against Su-Wei Hsieh on Wednesday.

But if Williams' victory was expected, Rubin's was not quite as predictable. 

Ranked No. 328 in the world, Rubin eliminated No. 17 seed Benoit Paire in three tiebreak sets in a match that lasted a little over two-and-a-half hours. The victory gives the 19-year-old, who won the Wimbledon boys' singles title in 2014, his first second-round appearance in a Grand Slam. Rubin, who earned a spot in the main draw by winning the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge in the fall, will face Pierre-Hughes Herbert in the second round.

Elsewhere on Day 1, Lauren Davis rallied from a set down to upset No. 26 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, on Court 14 and Irina Falconi outlasted fellow American Anna Tatishvili, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6, to set up a second-round matchup with Vinci.

Qualifier Nicole Gibbs also punched her ticket to Round 2, besting Klara Koikalova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

In the men's draw, 25-year-old Austin Krajicek cracked 13 aces and converted six of 10 break-point opportunities to topple China's Di Wu, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, and Dennis Kudla bested Filip Krajinovic, who was forced to retire at the end of the second set.

In other matches, Sloane Stephens, the No. 24 seed, lost to Chinese qualifier Qi Wang, 6-3, 6-3; Christina McHale fell to No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 6-3; and Alison Riske lost to 12th-seeded Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 6-3. Among the men, Sam Querrey had to retire from his opening match against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic. Querrey led by two sets to love, but he was unable to continue after Lajovic won the fourth set.

A total of 19 Americans will be in action on Day 2, including women's No. 8 seed Venus Williams, who opens her campaign against Johanna Konta; top-ranked U.S. man and No. 10 seed John Isner, who starts against Jerzy Janowicz; and 15th seed and 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys, who plays Zarina Diyas first on Margaret Court Arena.