The first Grand Slam of the year began early on Monday morning and already we’ve had some surprises. Eight womens seeds fell on Day one but it was business as usual for Messrs Federer and Nadal.
The Australian Open kicked-off on Monday with Simona Halep given the honour of being first out in the Rod Laver Arena. The Romanian defeated Karin Knapp 6-3, 6-2 in 88 minutes.
It was also a relaxed day at the office for Maria Sharapova as she made light work of Petra Martic. The 2008 champion downed her opponent 6-4, 6-1 but she wasn’t completely happy with her performance.
“I made a few too many unforced errors,” she said afterwards. “But overall I’m glad I got through.”
Up next for the Russian is fellow Russian – Alexandra Panova.
It wasn’t an ideal return to Melbourne for Ana Ivanovic who crashed out after losing in three sets to World No.142 Lucie Hradecka. Ivanovic looked to be cruising as she took the first set 6-1 but her momentum was halted as Hradecka took the next two 6-3, 6-2 in front of a stunned crowd.
It’s only her second 1st round loss at the Australian Open, the 1st coming back in 2011. An emotional Ana blamed her loss on nerves in the post-match press conference. Following Ivanovic’s exit, Angelique Kerber (No.9), Lucie Safarova (No.16), Carla Suarez-Navarro (No.17), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (No.23), Svetlana Kuznetsova (No.27), Sabine Lisicki (No.28) and Belinda Bencic (No.32) were all sent home early.
The early losses of the seeds means that Eugenie Bouchard’s path is a bit more clear. The Canadian easily defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2, 6-4 in her opening match. All the upsets in her section means that Bouchard might not meet a seeded player until the quarter-finals. More than likely that player will be Sharapova.
The Australian crowd had lots to cheer about. Home favourites Jarmila Gajdosova, Nick Kygrios, Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Samuel Groth, James Duckworth and Marinko Matosevic made it through to the 2nd round on Monday.
It was particularly special for Gajdosova and Matosevic as it was their 1st time to win a singles match in Melbourne. Kokkinakis saved four match points in his 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6, 8-6 victory over No.11 seed Ernests Gulbis. Aussie fans were treated to another cracker as Kygrios saw-off Federico Delbonis in a tense five-setter.
Rafael Nadal responded to the questions surrounding his fitness as he defeated Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. The Spaniard looked sharp during the match as he hit 37 winners and just 15 unforced errors.
Youzhny was broken twice in each set and had just a single break point on the Nadal serve. After the match, Nadal said that it was,
“a comfortable victory that give me some confidence.”
Up next for the nine-time French Open champion is Tim Smyczek of the USA.
Roger Federer also eased through to the 2nd round after a 6-4, 6-2 7-5 victory over Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu. Federer completed his 1,001st win on the tour in under two hours against Rod Laver.
He’ll play Simone Bolleli in the next round following the Italian’s win over Juan Monaco. Andy Murray won his opening match against qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 6-4, 7-6.
It wasn’t plain sailing for Murray, especially in the third set. Bhambri’s game frustrated the Scot as he fell behind 1-4 in the final set. Flashes of contrary Murray were on court as he shouted at himself several times.
“The whole match he made it difficult,” he said. “He played very aggressive, he is very talented.”
Murray will now face Aussie Marinko Matosevic, who should prove a bigger test.
Selected Mens’s Results
G. Dimitrov (10) d. D. Brown 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; T. Berdych (7) d. A. Falla 6-3, 7-6, 6-3; T. Kokkinakis d. E. Gulbis (11) 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6, 8-6; K. Anderson (14) d. D. Schwartzman 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4; R. Gasquet (24) d. C. Berlocq 6-1, 6-3, 6-1; N. Kygrios d. Federico Delbonis 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
Selected Women’s Results
J. Gajdosova d. A. Dulgheru 6-3, 6-4; J. Goerges d. Belinda Bencic (32) 6-2, 6-1; K. Mladenovic d. Sabine Lisicki (28) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; C. Garcia d. S. Kuznetsova (27) 6-4, 6-2; M. Puig d. A. Rodionova 6-0, 6-3; S. Errani (14) d. G. Min 6-1, 6-0; C. Witthoeft d. C. Suarez-Navarro 6-3, 6-1
Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena