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Aus Open PIX: Murray wins thriller; Kvitova bows out

Last updated on: January 18, 2022 19:53 IST
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Images from Day 2 of the 2022 Australian Open in Melbourne on Tuesday.

IMAGE: Andy Murray celebrates after winning his first round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia during day two of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Andy Murray dipped into the depth of his defensive skills to tame big-hitting Nikoloz Basilashvili during a thrilling 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 win on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Australian Open for the first time in five years.


The former world number one, a five-time finalist at Melbourne Park, has seen his ranking plummet since hip surgery in 2019 and long injury layoffs that followed and needed a wildcard into the main draw of this year's tournament.

The 113th-ranked Murray, who won the last of his three major titles at Wimbledon in 2016, showed he still had the game to trouble top players on the tour and forced the 21st seed from Georgia into making a litany of errors.

It was Murray's first match at Melbourne Park since a five-set defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut in 2019. He skipped the 2018 and 2020 tournaments with injury and also missed the last edition after testing positive for COVID-19 in the leadup.

"It's amazing. It's been a tough three-four years. I've put in a lot of work to get back here," Murray said in his on-court interview. "I've played on this court many times and the atmosphere is incredible. I've always had fantastic support.

"This is the one where I thought potentially I'd played my last match on three years ago but amazing to be back winning a five-set battle like that. Can't ask for anything more."

IMAGE: 113th-ranked Andy Murray, who won the last of his three major titles at Wimbledon in 2016, showed he still had the game to trouble top players on the tour. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

This was the third meeting between the pair with the British 34-year-old, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in 2017, triumphing in both previous encounters including last week's win en route to the final in Sydney.

Basilashvili, 29, committed 99 unforced errors, many of which came when the Murray ran from one end of the court to the other to defend doggedly and making his opponent play an extra shot in the rallies.

Murray often had to lean on his racquet to catch his breath for a few seconds as the match went into a deciding set but after an exchange of breaks he converted another opportunity to seal the win after almost a four-hour battle.

After Basilashvili found the net with his return on his third match-point, Murray let out a huge roar and a "let's go" as an appreciative crowd at the John Cain Arena showcourt gave him a standing ovation.

"He hits the ball huge from the back of the court," Murray said. "I had to do a lot of running today, lot of defending.

"He's not the sort of guy you want to see next to your name in the draw too often. But obviously a little bit of confidence from the win last week and I thankfully managed to get over the line today."

Murray will next meet Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel for a place in the third round at the year's first major.

Tsitsipas makes confident start with straight-sets win

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his first round match against Sweden's Mikael Ymer

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his first round match against Sweden's Mikael Ymer. Photograph: Morgan Sette/Reuters

Greek world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas put on a clinical show against familiar opponent Mikael Ymer of Sweden during a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory in the opening round of his Australian Open campaign on Tuesday.

Tsitsipas said he considered himself one of the best on hardcourts with nine-time Australian Open winner and world number one Novak Djokovic deported from the country over his COVID-19 vaccination status and no longer in the mix.

"I have a great net game, and most of the players don't have the ability to come to the net the way I do and to cover the court and win a lot of points with volleys," the Greek told reporters.

"They simply don't have it. It's something that is in my advantage, and I have been working my entire lifetime to perfect that. Perhaps other things they might have better than me, but in this department, I think I'm in favour."

Tsitsipas came into his first-round match with a 2-0 head-to-head Tour lead against the 86th-ranked Ymer, riding high on confidence having dropped just six games in their previous meeting in the third round at Melbourne Park last year.

Tsitsipas broke his fellow 23-year-old, someone he has grown up playing on the junior circuit, seven times and hit 30 winners to seal the contest in two hours and 10 minutes in the final match of the second day at Rod Laver Arena.

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas is congratulated by Sweden's Mikael Ymer after their first round match 

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas is congratulated by Sweden's Mikael Ymer after their first round match. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

The Greek was, however, not happy with the 38 unforced errors he committed in the match.

"There were a lot of rallies, a lot of ball exchanges, he gave me a hard time, he was going after every single ball and stayed in the match for as long as he could," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview.

"I will be trying to decrease the amount of unforced errors, I think I had a few more than I usually have. I'll be trying to keep the consistency and trying to attack a bit more, be a bit more daring in certain moments."

The French Open finalist also showed no signs of discomfort from a right elbow issue that forced him to miss a number of matches at the end of last season and also did not allow him to play at full tilt at the start of 2022.

Ymer showed glimpses of his talent and had his chances but could only convert two of his 11 breakpoint opportunities. The frustration ultimately got to the Swede as he kept punching his towel-clad head repeatedly during a changeover.

The Greek will next meet Argentina's 21-year-old Sebastian Baez, ranked 88th, for a place in the third round.

Raducanu survives Stephens test on Australian Open debut

Britain's Emma Raducanu reacts during her first round match against USA's Sloane Stephens

IMAGE: Britain's Emma Raducanu reacts during her first round match against USA's Sloane Stephens. Photograph: James Gourley/Reuters

Britain's teenage sensation Emma Raducanu cleared a dangerous first-round hurdle at the Australian Open, seeing off experienced American Sloane Stephens 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 in a topsy-turvy contest on Tuesday.

Raducanu, who rocketed to fame in September with a fairytale run to the US Open title as a qualifier without dropping a set in what was only her fourth senior tournament, raced through the opening set in 17 minutes, leaking only four points.

But former world number three and 2017 US Open champion Stephens finally found her rhythm and range to take charge of the second set from 2-2, reeling off four games as errors began creeping in to 17th seed Raducanu's game.

It looked ominous at that point for the 19-year-old Raducanu whose build-up to her Australian Open debut had hardly been ideal, having had COVID-19 and suffering a heavy defeat in her opening match in Sydney.

But she showed the same coolness under pressure that swept her to the title in New York, settling down and finding another gear to dominate the decider with some precision baseline hitting as the Stephens game unravelled again.

Stephens avoided another rout as she held serve at 0-5 but there was not to be another twist on a sparsely-populated Margaret Court as Raducanu closed out the win on serve despite a sixth double-fault on her first match point.

It was an encouraging start for Raducanu despite the second-set wobble and she will be heavily fancied to get past 99th ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in the second round.

Kvitova bows out after 'painful defeat'

IMAGE: 2019 Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova was ousted by Sorana Cirstea for the second successive year at Melbourne Park. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Twice former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said she was unsurprised at bowing out of the Australian Open in the opening round on Tuesday after a difficult month Down Under.

The 2019 Australian Open finalist was ousted by Sorana Cirstea for the second successive year at Melbourne Park, the Romanian veteran easing to a 6-2, 6-2 victory on John Cain Arena.

"I don't think I have much to say," said Kvitova. "It wasn't really going my way the whole month. That's how it is. It's a sport and I just have to fight through and be better at it."

The 20th seed, who lost to Naomi Osaka in the final three years ago, entered two warm-up tournaments but ended up playing only three matches after early exits in Adelaide and Sydney.

"I didn't play a lot of matches at the beginning of this year," she added.

"I did have some health issues the whole month as well, so it was tough to practice. It wasn't really easy this beginning of the season, but the season is long, so I hope that it will turnaround."

IMAGE: Sorana Cirstea in action during the first round match. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The 31-year-old Czech opened her 2022 campaign with a stunning loss to Australian world number 221 Priscilla Hon in the first round of the Adelaide International.

She moved on to the Sydney Tennis Classic and survived a scare to get her first win of the year against Arantxa Rus before exiting the tournament in the second at the hands of Ons Jabeur.

Kvitova said she would take a few days to "see clearly" and then focus on getting as many matches as she could under her belt and hopefully kick-starting her season.

"This loss is very painful, in the first round after like a whole month," she said.

"Yeah, on one hand, I'm not surprised really how everything ended. But on the other hand, of course, when I play a match I always want to win."

Medvedev marches into second round

IMAGE: US Open champion Daniil Medvedev eased past Swiss battler Henri Laaksonen in his first round match. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Daniil Medvedev launched his bid for a maiden Australian Open title on Tuesday with a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) romp over Swiss battler Henri Laaksonen.

US Open champion Medvedev, favourite to win at Melbourne Park in the wake of Novak Djokovic's deportation, was in cruise control for two sets against world number 91 Laaksonen before being dragged into a proper dog-fight in the third set.

Finland-born Laaksonen produced scintillating tennis to keep in touch with Medvedev in the tiebreak before faltering with a pair of unforced errors that gave the Russian three match points.

Medvedev sealed the win on the first of them and will play the winner of Nick Kyrgios and Liam Broady for a place in the third round.

Wildcard Inglis knocks out US Open finalist Fernandez

IMAGE: Maddison Inglis, right, of Australia shakes hands with Leylah Fernandez of Canada after winning the first round match. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez lost 6-4, 6-2 to local wildcard Maddison Inglis at the Australian Open on Tuesday to continue her run of first-round exits at Melbourne Park.

Fernandez had exited the hardcourt major without a win in her two previous appearances but the world number 24 would have hoped to get past the first obstacle this time around against her 133rd ranked opponent whom she beat in both prior meetings.

But Inglis seized the advantage with a break in the seventh game to take the opening set and then opened up a 4-0 lead in the second with a double break.

The 19-year-old Canadian, who accumulated 30 unforced errors, had two of her three breakpoint opportunities in the sixth game of the second set but failed to convert as Inglis stayed solid to secure victory on her third match point.

It was the first Grand Slam main draw win at the fifth attempt for the 24-year-old from Perth.

Muguruza bounces Burel to reach second round

IMAGE: Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round after beating young Frenchwoman Clara Burel. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Third seed Garbine Muguruza struggled to close out the contest but reached the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over feisty young Frenchwoman Clara Burel on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

Burel showed plenty of fight and managed to break Muguruza in the opening set but her own serve was brittle and 12 double faults dug a hole she was always going to struggle to get out of.

The experienced Spaniard, a losing finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, came into the net to great effect to go a set and a break up but was broken again when serving for the match.

The former Wimbledon and French Open champion broke Burel for a fifth time in the next game to get the job done and move onto to a contest with another Frenchwoman, Alize Cornet.

Swiatek hands Dart Bagel en route to victory

IMAGE: Iga Swiatek plays a forehand in her first round singles match against Harriet Dart of Great Britain. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former French Open champion Iga Swiatek overcame a slow start to cruise into the second round with a 6-3, 6-0 win over British qualifier Harriet Dart. The seventh seed takes on Rebecca Peterson in the second round.

Earlier, 2020 quarter-finalist Anett Kontaveit beat Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 6-3.

Stosur rallies to beat Anderson

IMAGE: Sam Stosur is set to finish her singles career after the Australian Open but will continue to play doubles in 2022. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former US Open champion Sam Stosur began her 20th and final Australian Open singles campaign with a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 win over Robin Anderson. Stosur is set to finish her singles career after the Grand Slam but will continue to play doubles in 2022.

"Man, that was incredible," said Stosur. "That's a match I'm going to remember forever, probably one of the best singles matches I've played in a long time. To do it today, at home... it wasn't going to be the last. Happy to have another one."

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