No luck for Luksika as Thai No 1 suffers first-day defeat in Open
The Australian Open has always been the lucky Major for Luksika Kumkhum but that is not the case this year as the error-prone Thai was outclassed by world No 15 Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the first round on Monday.
The Thai No 1 struggled to keep her composure in front of a partisan home crowd and succumbed 6-2 6-2 in just 57 minutes.
The 66th-ranked Luksika went into the tough first-round match with good memories at Melbourne Park.
She beat former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the opening round in 2014 and reached the third round as a qualifier last year, her career-best attempt in a Grand Slam tournament to date.
After starting impressively – she converted an early break to go 2-0 up – Luksika lost her focus and made error after error to drop six games in a row and hand the opening set to her 22-year-old opponent in just 27 minutes.
Luksika’s uneven form continued into the second set as she sprayed several shots wide to immediately drop serve again.
She did rally briefly, cutting down her mistakes to break back and drew level at 2-2 but Barty managed another break again, wrong-footing the Thai to regain the lead at 3-2, after which she dictated the points and errors continued to characterise Luksika’s performance.
Unable to defend the 200+ points she gained last year, Luksika is cert to fall into the nineties when the new WTA rankings are updated after the year’s opening Major.
Luksika is next committed to compete in the home tournament in Hua Hin which starts on January 28.
Isney, Edmund big-name casualties
The top-ranked American and British players led the name of early big-name exits on day one in Melbourne.
Ninth seed John Isner was knocked out of the Australian Open in one of the biggest shocks of the first round.
The 2.08-metre ninth seed, was beaten by his even taller (2.11m) fellow American Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) in a battle of the giants.
No fewer than 87 aces were powered down between the big-serving pair, with just one break apiece being registered in the fourth set of a match that lasted 2hr 58min.
Kyle Edmund is certain to plummet down the rankings after also going out in the fist round.
The British No 1 was unlucky to draw the veteran Tomas Berdych who is on his way back for a back injury and recently reached the final of the recent Qatar Open as a wildcard. The former Wimbledon finalist won 6-3 6-0 7-5 in one hour and 41 minutes.
Edmund was a semi-finalist last year and was therefore defending a huge number of points, so his early exit means he will slide down the rankings from No 14 to the late 20s as a result.