Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova hits a return against Belgium's Greet Minnen during their women's singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Monday
Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova hits a return against Belgium's Greet Minnen during their women's singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Monday
AFP

Melbourne: Fortune favoured those men's seeds with a history of deep runs at previous Australian Opens on Monday, as last year’s semifinalist Alexander Zverev joined 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round.

Fellow former semifinalists Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov also prevailed, but 2018 runner-up Maran Cilic headed for the exit.

It was a tearful exit for former quarterfinalist Gael Monfils, however, as the 10th seed lost his sixth-straight match since the tour resumed last year.

It's been so long since he had a sizeable crowd to play for, the showman in Novak Djokovic just had to come out.

Top-ranked Djokovic began his Australian Open title defense with a clinical, 6-3 6-1 6-2 victory over Jeremy Chardy in the closing act of the day 1 program on Rod Laver Arena.

While Djokovic spoke of his love affair with the main show court, where he has won eight Australian titles, Kyrgios was closing the day's program out on the third arena stadium, where polite applause is always secondary to whoops and whistles, with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Frederico Silva.

Day 1 concluded with a look at the future of tennis, and 21-year-old, No. 11-seeded Denis Shapovalov finally beat 19-year-old Jannik Sinner 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in a marathon lasting almost four hours on Margaret Court Arena. It ended at 12:49 a.m. local time.

In a colourful one-legged catsuit, Serena Williams, said was inspired by former Olympic champion Florence Griffith Joyner, Williams dropped her opening serve but rebounded to win 10 consecutive games and beat Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1.

Speed was of the essence also for No. 2-ranked Simona Halep and No. 3 Osaka, who each only dropped three games.

U.S. Open champion Osaka beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2, and two-time major winner Halep had a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australian wild-card entry Lizette Cabrera.

Joining them in the second round were No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, French Open winner Iga Swiatek and 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, returning from 15 months on the sidelines.

Venus Williams, a seven-time major winner, won a Grand Slam match for the first time since 2019.

Playing in her 21st Australian Open, the elder Williams beat Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2. At 40, Venus is the oldest woman in this year's draw and just the sixth player in her 40s to compete at the Australian Open.

Two weeks in hard lockdown didn't help 2016 Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber, who lost to Bernarda Pera.

U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem beat Mikhail Kukushkin in three tough sets in his first match at the tournament since losing last year's final to Djokovic.

Alexander Zverev, who lost the final to Thiem in New York, lost his temper in the second set and belted his racket into the court. Letting off a little steam worked, and he recovered to beat No. 73-ranked Marcos Giron 6-7 (8), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2.

Also advancing were No. 14 Milos Raonic, former champion Stan Wawrinka and Americans Reilly Opelka, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, who next plays Djokovic.

Williams' inspiration was clear when she started her match.

Griffith Joyner was a sprinting and fashion icon in the 1980s, setting world records that still stand for the women's 100- and 200-meter sprints. She died in 1998, the same year Serena Williams contested her first Australian Open.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in