» Sports » PIX: Djokovic back in old routine; Murray wins an epic

PIX: Djokovic back in old routine; Murray wins an epic

Last updated on: January 17, 2023 21:58 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Images from Day 2 of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his first round match against Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

IMAGE: Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his first round match against Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Novak Djokovic returned to the Australian Open nearly 700 days since winning the title for a ninth time and continued exactly where he left off at the Grand Slam he has dominated with a commanding first-round win on Tuesday.

After regular Melbourne adversary Andy Murray conjured some old magic to stop last year's semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in a five-set classic, Djokovic was cheered on to Rod Laver Arena to complete a manic day with scorching heat and drenching rain.


Deprived of a tilt at a record-extending 10th title last year after being deported on the eve of the tournament for not having a COVID-19 vaccination, the Serbian showed his class as he glided past Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

Welcomed like a returning hero by the evening crowd, many sporting Serbian flags, the 35-year-old Djokovic was imperious throughout and rattled off the third set for the loss of four points to seal an 83rd win at the tournament.

"It was an unbelievable atmosphere," fourth seed Djokovic, who has now won 22 matches in a row in Melbourne since his last loss in 2018, said on court.

Djokovic saved three early break points to win the first set as fans sang his name.

Novak Djokovic poses for a selfie with fans after winning his first round match.

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic poses for a selfie with fans after winning his first round match. Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters

"I felt very welcome on the court, especially the Serbian community that is big here in Australia has welcomed me in an incredible way. So much support. So much love," Djokovic told reporters.

"I couldn't ask for a better start to the tournament in terms of support, in terms of how I felt on the court and also playing."

A heavily strapped left thigh due to a hamstring strain he suffered en route to the Adelaide title proved little hindrance for the 35-year-old who was enjoying his time in front of the Rod Laver Arena crowd as he took the second to double his lead.

Striking the ball superbly throughout, Djokovic underlined his credentials as favourite to win the title, which would take him level with holder Rafa Nadal on 22 majors, by wrestling Carballes Baena into submission in a one-sided third set.

Watched on by his parents and brother, who had proven to be lucky charms in the stands when Djokovic won his first major in 2008, the fourth seed also extended his run without a defeat on Australian soil to 35 matches.

Murray bounces out Berrettini

IMAGE: Andy Murray celebrates winning his first round match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A vintage Andy Murray weathered a gallant fightback from Matteo Berrettini before dumping the 13th seeded Italian out of the Australian Open first round with an epic 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6 (10-6) win on Tuesday.

With the crowd largely in the palm of his hand, the 35-year-old Scot raced out of the blocks to take the first two sets under the roof of a muggy Rod Laver Arena.

A five-times runner-up in the tournament, little has come easy for Murray at Melbourne Park, and so it proved again as Berrettini emerged from a long off-court break between sets dialled-in to level the match.

IMAGE: Andy Murray hits a forehand during the first round match. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Murray's determination never wavered, though, and he held his nerve in the deciding 10-point tiebreak, closing out the match with incredible fortune as his bunted forehand return caught the net and left Berrettini no chance.

Murray will play the winner of Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis and Italian veteran Fabio Fognini for a place in the third

Rublev tames Thiem

IMAGE: Andrey Rublev plays a forehand during his first round match against Dominic Thiem of Austria. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev brought an end to the Australian Open campaign of former Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem in the opening round on Tuesday when he overpowered the Austrian 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on a sweltering John Cain Arena.

Thiem, a finalist at Melbourne Park and US Open champion in 2020, is on the comeback trail after a wrist injury and was able to compete only to a certain extent against the power of the rangy Russian.

In a match studded with high quality rallies between the two baseliners, Rublev broke for a 5-3 lead in the opening set, for 5-4 in the second and, after a huge roar, for 2-1 in the third.

Thiem was simply unable to get a foothold in the contest and the 25-year-old Rublev, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in 2021, served out for the match after little more than two hours on court.

"We are really good friends and I know he is going through not so easy times ... and I hope he can get back to the level he belongs as fast as possible," Rublev said of the former world number three.

"It's super hot today so I'm super happy I was able to win in straight sets and save some energy for the next match.

"The hotter it is, the tougher it is to make the right decisions, the tougher to move. When you start to think the other guy is also feeling the same, it's a bit easier."

IMAGE: Andrey Rublev celebrates winning his first round match. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Rublev, like all Russian and Belarusian players, is competing at the tournament without national affiliation as a result of last year's invasion of Ukraine.

Tennis Australia on Tuesday morning banned fans from bringing flags of either nation into the Melbourne Park precinct after a Russian tricolour was hung on a bush next to a court where Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl was playing on Monday.

The heat was the other main topic of conversation on the second day of the championships as temperatures soared towards a forecast high of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8°F).

Play was suspended on the outside courts shortly after 2 pm local time (0730 IST) as the tournament's Extreme Heat Policy came into play.

IMAGE: Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka registered an emphatic straight sets victory over Tereza Martincova. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Top women's seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia spent as little time as possible on Rod Laver Arena in their opening matches at the year's first Grand Slam.

Fifth seed Sabalenka, who opened the year by winning the Adelaide International 1 title without losing a set, kept up her fine form with an emphatic 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tereza Martincova.

"It wasn't that easy a match and I'm super happy to start with a win," said the Belarusian.

"I need to work on my mindset, not getting upset with every mistake I am making, I truly believe that this is the only thing that is missing in my game."

IMAGE: Caroline Garcia beat Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov in just over an hour. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Fourth seed Garcia, who won the WTA Finals last season, was equally convincing with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov in just over an hour.

IMAGE: 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez recovered from a slow start to beat Alize Cornet. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Garcia will next face another Canadian in 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who came from an early break down to beat Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-2.

Italian Martina Trevisan was the first seed to fall on Tuesday. The 21st seed went down 6-3, 6-2 to Slovakian qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Novak Djokovic will begin his bid for a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
© Copyright 2023 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

IPL 2023

IPL 2023