MELBOURNE -- While the match-fixing report cast a shadow over the start of the Australian Open, the first week of play provided plenty of entertainment and drama.
Serena Williams is back in top form after a four-month layoff, while Rafael Nadal showed he was not after a nearly five-hour, first-round loss against Fernando Verdasco. Andy Murray is playing toward another final clash against Novak Djokovic, or an early departure home if his wife goes into labor early. Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt played his final singles match before an adoring crowd, while Nick Kyrgios entertained his fellow Aussies whether he was playing, yelling at the umpire or changing his shorts.
Our ESPN analysts share their highlights from the first week Down Under:
Best match so far
Mary Joe Fernandez: Nadal-Verdasco would be my choice on the men's side. On the women's side, Monica Puig versus Kristyna Pliskova was pretty exciting. Pliskova had 31 aces (a WTA record) and Puig saved five match points, three in the second set.
Brad Gilbert: The unbelievable drama and great tension in the Nadal-Verdasco match. I called it the sequel played seven years later with a different outcome.
Pam Shriver: I was out on the court when John Millman beat Gilles Muller. It was in the shadow of Hewitt's final moments in his match against David Ferrer, but it was still a packed court, because it was still an Australian player and the home crowd was raucous.
Fernandez: That's a tough one. It would be between Serena and Victoria Azarenka. Serena was amazing Friday night and Vika has looked good throughout. And Johanna Konta -- she beat Venus and [on Saturday] she continued to win. To me, she is the one people don't know about who is playing really, really well.
Gilbert: I was a little bit unclear as to how Serena would play. She hadn't had an official match since the US Open. ... To see her play six sets and absolutely blitz through it -- I was most surprised by how she is serving and moving.
Shriver: The way Serena has played. We were all wondering the first week what sort of rust would show. In the second set against Darya Kasatkina, she didn't lose a point on serve.
Most disappointing performance
Fernandez: A little bit of Venus, a little Sloane Stephens, a little Simona Halep. Sloane had just won a tournament, Venus had a great run at the end of last year and Halep was expected to be contending for the title.
Gilbert: Because he had so much confidence coming in, I would probably say Rafa. He said he had his best offseason, so I was kind of thinking he might make a deep run here. Seeing him go out in the first round is most disappointing.
Shriver: I was disappointed that Rafa went from up two sets to one and 2-0 in the fifth, to losing. It's not because he didn't try. It's just, right now, he doesn't have the belief and weapons he had two or three years ago.
Fernandez: Zhang Shuai. Having never won a Grand Slam match before (she was 0-14), it was pretty surprising she beat Halep in the first round. She had talked about not playing anymore. That came out of nowhere.
Gilbert: Zhang. After beating Halep, you probably would have thought she'd then lose to Alize Cornet, yet she has reached the fourth round. Also, seeing Dudi Sela beat Verdasco and do things with the crowd, he was one of the best interviews. Someone in the stands was asked, "Can Dudi win?" The man looked up to the sky and said, "Only if we have divine intervention."
Shriver: That so many seeds are out on the women's side.
Fernandez: The shot of the tournament was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against Pierre-Hugues Herbert. He was down set point and came up with an around-the-back, one-handed, backhand cross-court shot. That was pretty fun.
Gilbert: There was a nice moment when Tsonga came over to the aid of a ball girl who got popped by a ball. It was a great gesture. Another moment I'll remember, because I look for quirky things, was after Rajeev Ram lost in second round. Seeing him slumped in his chair after he came so close, it was like thrill of victory and agony of defeat. You could just feel his numbness.
Shriver: She lost early, but seeing Victoria Duval play was a sentimental moment that struck me. Because of her cancer, the lymphoma, being out of major tennis for a year and a half, then seeing her out there playing -- she didn't win the match, but just to see her back and looking healthy was a nice moment.