I love the Australian Open. The atmosphere, the freshness, the excitement, the energy, the colour, the weather, the unpredictability. It’s brilliant. Even if I did feel it come in a rush this season, and began to wonder if maybe it’s slightly too early in the tennis calendar (more on that another time.)
Still, I love everything about it – except the hashtag that annually trends alongside it: #SleepIsForTheWeak. Actually, sleep is for the people trying to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle (me, most of the time). And for the people who need to get up and work the next day (me, although actually my work generally is the tennis, so maybe I am just being weak.)
Anyway, the Australian Open is the time of year I use the record button the most, and I am extremely grateful for it. There are several matches I wish I had recorded last night that I did not, because Day One more than lived up to expectations.
See below for the results and my takes on them.
DAY ONE AUSTRALIAN OPEN RESULTS
ROD LAVER ARENA
Shelby Rogers d. Simona Halep  6-3 6-1
The first and biggest upset of the tournament to date was not surprising. Last year, a downward spiral of form for Halep began with a first round Australian Open thrashing at the hands of qualifier Shuai Zhang. Rogers is a more established player and upset Petra Kvitova at the 2016 US Open. Now has a shot at a decent – but not spectacular – run.
Venus Williams  d. Kateryna Kozlova 7-6(5) 7-5
Considering her straights sets loss to Johanna Konta in last season’s Melbourne opener, this win is especially good for the elder Williams sister. It may have been close, but it hints she has the mentality to deal with the big moments this fortnight might bring. Big-hitting Kozlova is an underrated opponent who I’ve had my eye on for a number of years, and while I had my second thoughts after she was suspended for drugs, this is not the first time she’s proved that she can rally with the elite.
Andy Murray  d. Illya Marchenko 7-5 7-6(5) 6-2
Don’t raise your eyebrows at the scoreline. Murray tends to make a mountain out of a molehill (or simply get pushed hard by an inspired opponent) at least once in a soft Slam draw, but he always comes through. In the long run – seeing as he likely will not face a serious threat until the quarter-finals – this little fight might do him a lot of good.
Angelique Kerber  d. Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 5-7 6-2
Tsurenko started aggressively. Kerber took control. Kerber lapsed, Tsurenko pounced. Tsurenko took the first break of the third set, and immediately halted like a deer in the headlights. Danger avoided for the defending champion, who wins just her second match of the year in her third tournament contested.
Roger Federer  d. Jurgen Melzer [Q] 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-2
The Roger Federer who returned to competitive tennis for the first time in seven months looked pretty rusty, despite playing the Hopman Cup two weeks ago, and could easily have lost both the opening sets. Nevertheless, that he broke twice to seal the first is a good sign in retrospect, and he certainly tightened screws later in the match. Melzer played a quality and unindimidated game, and should take solace in the fact that the loss was largely inflicted by the late-match brilliance of his opponent.
MARGARET COURT ARENA
Garbine Muguruza  d. Marina Erakovic 7-5 6-4
After a shambolic final half of 2016, Muguruza has continued her surprisingly good start to the new season – and has perhaps stamper her status as an outsider to watch. Erakovic is a decent opponent, and that makes this a commendable victory.
Bernard Tomic  d. Thomaz Bellucci 6-2 6-1 6-4
This was Tomic’s plan all along: Get into the position where nobody had any expectation for you whatsoever, land a decent draw at your home Slam and begin to mark yourself out as a dark horse of the competition. Still, with the road ahead that he’s got, it shouldn’t take the Aussies long to start talking about the possibility of a deep run.
CoCo Vandeweghe d. Roberta Vinci  6-1 7-6(3)
Vandeweghe took a lengthy medical timeout at 2-4 in the second set after feeling nauseous. This resulted in the briefest of cold post-match handshakes after a similarly lengthy victory celebration after the clash. Seems that was the key drama in this one. It was always going to be a difficult opener for Vinci, who rarely performs well at Slams these days, against a woman who has previously been seeded at these events. An upset? Not really.
Stan Wawrinka  d. Martin Klizan 4-6 6-4 7-5 4-6 6-4
Full of fire and power, Slovakia’s Klizan is underrated. That said, I did not expect him to take Wawrinka right down the wire. This one had all-court tennis and drama galore, and saw the latter man up 4-2 in the decider. But – as seemed fitting, despite his wayward tendencies – the US Open champion survived. With an unnecessary but spectacular body-shot along the way, if you heard anything about that one.
Eugenie Bouchard d. Louisa Chirico 6-0 6-4
Canadians lauded world no. 47 Bouchard, and general onlookers said that her young American opponent looked ‘lost’ during her first ever appearance on a major show court. Still, when Genie is allowed to rally from the baseline against a player with less power and few weapons (as yet), it’s a good sign for her. Shuai Peng should either be a test or a virtual walkover.
Kei Nishikori  d. Alex Kuznetsov 5-7 6-1 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2
Nishikori – once again skipped off the two biggest courts at a Slam, despite a ranking of no. 5 this time around – was unfortunate to draw Kuznetsov in the first round. Something of a more-consistent Klizan, the Russian really broke through and started performing regularly in 2016. Still, the seeded man is going to have to do better to prove he has a shot at winning this.
Ashleigh Barty d. Annika Beck 6-4 7-5
To say that Ashleigh Barty is ridiculously talented would be something of an understatement, and her first ever singles triumph in Melbourne was a job well done. With Halep out, the world no. 223 now faces Rogers – and a deep run at home is not unthinkable.
Svetlana Kuznetsova  d. Mariana Duque-Marino 6-0 6-1
No offence to the Colombian with the nifty slice, but here’s a result that speaks for itself.
Nick Kyrgios  d. Gastao Elias 6-1 6-2 6-2
Played on a court he selected himself, and propelled on by the atmosphere he chose it for, Kyrgios got this victory with the kind of non-stop, aggressive tennis that made me label him a leading contender for the trophy. Of course, he could lose focus at any time, but Kyrgios has stated that he wants to win. He should be here for at least a few more rounds, and potentially more.
Tomas Berdych  d. Luca Vanni 6-1 (retired)
He may have progressed, but this loss of time on court could hurt Berdych further into his loaded section of the draw.
Marin Cilic  d. Jerzy Janowicz 4-6 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-3
They called it a ‘match of two halves’, and it’s obvious why. Slightly surprised that former-Wimbledon-semifinalist-turned-gamer Janowicz made this go the distance.
Shuai Zhang  d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-0 6-3
She entered the 2016 Australian Open as a qualifier, and world no. 23 Zhang has made a blazing start as she aims to better last season’s quarter-final showing.
Elina Svitolina  d. Galina Voskoboeva 6-0 6-2
She’s been labelled a dark horse of the competition by many, and Svitolina’s start was probably better than she’d hoped for.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  d. Thiago Monteiro 6-1 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2
His performance in the latter stages of the third set was a perfect example of why the 2008 finalist is yet to win a Slam. But Tsonga eventually finished it off so well that – for now – it doesn’t matter.
Jack Sock  d. Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 7-6(4) 6-3
Will Herbert ever catch a break with these first-round major draws?
Jelena Jankovic d. Laura Siegemund 6-1 1-6 6-4
It was a leading first round clash that apparently lived up to the billing.
Alexander Bublik d. Lucas Pouille  6-0 3-6 6-3 6-4
The 19-year-old qualifier won impressively on his Grand Slam main draw debut, albeit against an injured opponent. One cannot say it makes Andy Murray’s draw easier, as he has destroyed Pouille in all three previous meetings.
Monica Puig  d. Patricia Maria Tig 6-0 6-1
A swift, promising start from Puerto Rico’s Puig, who potentially benefits alongside Barty from Simona Halep’s loss.
Mischa Zverev d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 7-6(5) 6-4
Did I mention how great Mischa Zverev is?
Andrey Rublev d. Yen-Hsun Lu 4-6 6-3 7-6(0) 6-3
The Russian teen breaks up the Murray-Lu clash that seems to happen at every Grand Slam tournament (but has, in fact, only happened twice.) Biggest match of his career to date coming up.
Shuai Peng d. Daria Kasatkina  6-0 7-6(5)
A great victory for the Chinesewoman who reached the 2014 US Open before a long battle with injury. Meanwhile, Kasatkina has wrecked havoc among leagues of predictions.
Thanks for reading! Who impressed you on Day One in Melbourne? Let me know!