Novak Djokovic served a reminder of why he’s the greatest Australian Open champion in history as he demolished France’s Jeremy Chardy in round one on Monday. The eight-time winner’s 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win showed that normal service had resumed at Rod Laver Arena after the year’s first Grand Slam was delayed three weeks over the coronavirus.
In arguably the match of the opening day, Denis Shapovalov outlasted Italian teenager Jannik Sinner in five sets late in the evening. The rising stars battled out in a rollercoaster match that the Canadian won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
Fellow top-ten seeds Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev were made to work hard for their wins while unseeded former Grand Slam finalists Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic were out in the first round by Pablo Carreno Busta and Grigor Dimitrov.
French 10th seed Gael Monfils became the biggest casualty on the firs day as he was stunned 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 by Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, the world No 86, in three hours and 46 minutes.
Djokovic left little doubt about his readiness to pursue a record-extending ninth title in Melbourne, breaking in the first game and completing the victory in 91 minutes. He next faces American Frances Tiafoe in a tricky side of the draw with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and former world No 3 Milos Raonic potential obstacles en route to the quarter-finals.
US Open champion Thiem was made to work hard in the first set by Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin before coming through 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3.
After saving a set point in the tie-breaker, Thiem dialled up the aggression in the second set as Kukushkin began to misfire. When Thiem broke through for a 3-2 lead there was no way back for the 89th ranked Kazak.
“Definitely I felt nerves because it was a long time until the Slam, more than three weeks from when we arrived to Adelaide,” Thiem said.
“It was not easy. Also it was interesting because I never faced him, which is not happening that often anymore, as I’ve almost faced everybody on tour already.”
Thiem will next play either German Dominik Keopfer or Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios looming as a potential third-round opponent.
“He’s very experienced and the first set was super-challenging,” said Thiem, beaten by Djokovic in five epic sets in the Australian Open final last year.
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev dropped a set and smashed a racquet before grinding to a 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2 win against American Marcos Giron.
The German, a semi-finalist last year who is gunning for a maiden Grand Slam title, lost a tight first set against the 73rd-ranked American before grinding out a win. It was a tougher assignment than expected with Zverev smashing his racquet in anger during the second set before regaining his composure.
“He played incredible,” said the German, who lost to Thiem in the final in New York and the Melbourne semi-finals last year. “He had me on the ropes, particularly in the second set tie-break.”
He will meet American qualifier Maxime Gressy next and said he was encouraged by the way he improved as the match wore on.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios scored a point with a tweener as he beat Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva in straight sets.
The unseeded Kyrgios was broken on his opening service game and the on-court microphone picked him up saying to his box: “Are you awake? You’re saying one thing for two games.” In the next game a frustrated Kyrgios yelled: “Tell your girlfriend to get out of my box.”
But he settled down and composed himself to break back then break again to wrap up the first set. He picked up an early break in the second set and, with his serve firing, raced through the match, treating the crowd to a successful tweener shot between his legs as Ferreira Silva served to stay in the contest.
Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, reached the second round for a 16th straight time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win against Portugal’s Paulo Sousa.
Milos Raonic, the 14th seed from Canada, also enjoyed serene progress through to the second round with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Federico Coria of Argentina.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov got through in three sets against Croatia’s Marin Clic, the 2014 US Open champion. Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who Cilic beat in the final, also fell at the first hurdle with a straight-sets defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) bt Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-2
Reilly Opelka (USA) bt Lu Yen-hsun (TPE) 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA x27) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6)
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x17) bt Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Marc Polmans (AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3
Corentin Moutet (FRA) bt John Millman (AUS) 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Milos Raonic (CAN x14) bt Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) bt Gael Monfils (FRA x10) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
Pedro Martinez (ESP) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 6-1, 6-1
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
Dusan Lajovic (SRB x23) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Adrian Mannarino (FRA x32) bt Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2)
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) bt Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Maxime Cressy (USA) bt Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
Alexander Zverev (GER x6) bt Marcos Giron (USA) 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2
Dominic Thiem (AUT x3) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) bt Hugo Dellien (BOL) 7-5, 6-2, 6-4
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) bt Frederico Silva (POR) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Ugo Humbert (FRA x29) bt Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x18) bt Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
Alex Bolt (AUS) bt Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
Jiri Vesely (CZE) bt Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-3
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x15) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN) 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2
Denis Shapovalov (CAN x11) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Bernard Tomic (AUS) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 ret
James Duckworth (AUS) bt Damir Džumhur (BIH) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x20) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) bt Benoît Paire (FRA x25) 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) bt Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
Alexandre Muller (FRA) bt Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x8) bt Elias Ymer (SWE) 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 2-6, 6-2
With AFP Inputs