It’s one-and-done for Sela, Pe’er and Glushko

First-round Melbourne exits for all Israelis in singles; Rusty Djokovic, slick Serena advance.

Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er (photo credit: Reuters)
Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er
(photo credit: Reuters)
Less than 10 hours into this year’s Australian Open, all three of Israel’s representatives in the singles tournaments had already been knocked out.
Dudi Sela, Shahar Pe’er and Julia Glushko all entered Monday’s first round matches as underdogs and were all sent packing after failing to upset their higher-ranked opponents.
Sela, ranked No. 68 in the world, won two of the first three sets, but ultimately succumbed 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3 to Jarko Nieminen (39) of Finland after three hours and 38 minutes under the stifling Melbourne sun.
“The second set was the key and had I won it the match would have ended differently,” said Sela, who was ousted in the first round of the Australian Open for a fifth straight year.
“I’m really disappointed to be knocked out in the first round, but I will continue to work hard and hope to have a good year.”
Pe’er (77) was eliminated by former doubles partner Monica Niculescu (60) of Romania after just one hour and 24 minutes, losing 6-4, 6-1.
The Israeli held her serve just twice in the match and registered 38 unforced errors on the way to her first opening- round exit in Melbourne since 2009.
Julia Glushko’s (89) Australian Open main draw debut ended in defeat, but she gave Lucie Safarova (27) a run for her money for two hours and eight minutes before dropping to a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 loss.
“I began the first set well, but couldn’t keep it up,” said Glushko. “I was determined to fight back in the second set and took advantage of Safarova’s drop in form. However, I couldn’t maintain my level of play in the third set. I’m disappointed, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Pe’er will remain in Melbourne for the time being to take part in the doubles tournament, in which she will team up with Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will face Daniele Bracciali and Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round of the men’s doubles later this week.
In other Day 1 action, Novak Djokovic showed some early season rustiness but Serena Williams roared into the second round like a well-oiled machine as the tournament favorites took center stage on the first evening.
Williams, looking for her sixth title, closed the evening on Rod Laver Arena with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of local hope Ashleigh Barty after four-time champion Djokovic had overcome Lukas Lacko 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-1.
Earlier, there were shocks aplenty in the women’s draw with the biggest coming when sixth seed Petra Kvitova fell victim to Thai world No. 88 Luksika Kumkhum. There were upsets for two Italian seeds as well, Sara Errani beaten 6-3, 6-2 by German Julia Goerges and her doubles partner Roberta Vinci going down 6-4, 6-3 to China’s Zheng Jie.
Serena’s sister Venus Williams also bid an early farewell to the tournament when she blew a 3-0 lead in the deciding set to lose 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Spanish top seed Nadal gets his campaign underway on Tuesday along with two of the other “big four” of men’s tennis, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer.
Reuters contributed to this report.