» Sports » Aus Open PIX: Ruthless Djokovic, Serena, Zverev march forth

Aus Open PIX: Ruthless Djokovic, Serena, Zverev march forth

Last updated on: January 15, 2019 21:01 IST
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IMAGES from the Australian Open matches played on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic reacts winning a point during his first round match against Mitchell Krueger. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Top seed Novak Djokovic looked every inch the Australian Open favourite as he comfortably beat American qualifier Mitchell Krueger 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round on Tuesday.


Soaking up the Rod Laver Arena limelight, the Serb moved superbly in his Melbourne Park opener and hit 42 winners to wrap up the one-sided clash in little more than two hours.

Despite the scoreline, the 230th-ranked Krueger hardly disgraced himself and broke Djokovic in the third game of the first set.

That was as good as it got for the American, as Djokovic coasted to an easy victory. The Serb will continue his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man he beat for the 2008 trophy.

Serena makes strong start in Melbourne return

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams plays a forehand in her first round match against Tatjana Maria of Germany. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Serena Williams made a ruthless start to her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over unseeded German Tatjana Maria in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Playing her first Grand Slam since her infamous rant against the umpire at last year's US Open final, the 37-year-old Williams seemed to have decided to move on from last September's incident that caused a furore across the world.

She was handed a warning by chair umpire Carlos Ramos for a on-court coaching violation before being deducted a point for smashing her racquet and later a game for a heated argument during her loss to Naomi Osaka.

Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou told Reuters last week he expects on-court coaching to continue virtually unchecked at the Grand Slams despite the hue and cry over the issue.

But Williams refused to be drawn in.

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams plays a shot. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

"I, like, literally have no comment," Williams, wearing a black T-shirt with the message 'Until We All Win' at her post-match news conference, said.

The seven-time Australian Open champion was eight weeks pregnant when she won the last of her 23 Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park and returned to tennis last year after the birth of her daughter in September, 2017.

She has kept a low profile in Melbourne and did not appear before the media before the start of the Jan. 14-27 tournament but was enthusiastic to talk about topics more softer, like how her daughter's black doll was named Qai Qai.

"Spending a lot of time with my daughter. I think that's the priority for me. And I feel like literally every moment I get I practise, and then I go home," she said.

"It's kind of what I do in Florida. I train and I go right home and I spend the rest of the day with my daughter. For now, as a working mom, I feel guilty. And I understand that that's normal, but -- and these are years I'll never get back.

"I just try to spend every moment that I can when I'm not working with her. And for me that's super important."

Williams showed on Tuesday she has lost none of her brutal power and athleticism in the match between the two mothers at Rod Laver Arena.

She peppered the court with her heavy groundstrokes and also advanced to the net whenever she had an opportunity, losing only 24 points against Maria and she concentrated on being consistent and cutting down on unforced errors.

"It was nice to be back out there. Last time I was out there was a great moment, especially internally for me, it was even a better moment," she added. "I think it was a good match today."

Williams finished the match in just 49 minutes on her second match point when Maria, who is also her neighbour, sent a backhand wide and the American will next play Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who beat Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 6-1.

"It will be a great match. She plays really well," Williams said of Bouchard, who reached the Australian Open and French semi-finals and the Wimbledon final in 2014.

"She does everything well, and I really like that she doesn't quit," Williams said.

"You know, people write her off, and she doesn't let that bother her. She continues to fight and do what she needs to do. I think that's really not good."

Determined Halep survives Kanepi hurdle to reach second round

Simona Halep

IMAGE: Simona Halep plays a shot in her first round match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Top seed Simona Halep had to summon all of her determination and grit against Kaia Kanepi in a 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2 victory in the Australian Open and survive a repeat of a first-round Grand Slam exit at the hands of the Estonian.

In a rematch of last year's US Open first round, where Kanepi dumped her out in straight sets, Halep had to dig deep against the powerful groundstrokes of her opponent, who is ranked 71 but had not played since New York.

The 2018 French Open champion was without a coach and on a five-match losing streak coming into the year's first Grand Slam and had to make sure she kept her unforced errors to a minimum.

She broke Kanepi twice in the final set and sealed the match when her opponent sent a forehand wide for her 62nd unforced error. Halep will next play American Sofia Kenin, who earlier beat Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Zverev overpowers Bedene

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: Alexander Zverev of Germany serves in his first round match against Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Germany's Alexander Zverev overpowered Aljaz Bedene to win their first round match at the Australian Open 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 as the 21-year-old firms as a title contender.

The big-hitting fourth seed went down a break midway through the first set, which seemed to prod him into action. He won the next eight games, and Bedene never recovered.

Zverev will play the winner of an all-French first round match between Jeremy Chardy and Ugo Humbert.

Zverev, known as Sascha, has emerged as the leader of tennis' new generation of men's players, a reputation confirmed late last year by his maiden ATP Finals triumph where he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in consecutive days.

Venus secures come-from-behind win

Venus Williams

IMAGE: Venus Williams reacts after winning the match against Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Venus Williams celebrated her 19th main draw appearance at the Australian Open with a come-from-behind 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-2 victory over 25th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu, marking a successful day for some of the sport’s oldest active competitors.

The 38-year-old, who is unseeded for the first time since 2014 and is the oldest player in the women’s draw, will meet France’s Alize Cornet in the second round.

It was a good day for some of the veterans of the sport after big serving 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic, the oldest male player, served his way into the second round against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, a man 18 years his junior.

Title contender Roger Federer, aged 37, comfortably won his first round match on Monday.

Karlovic, 39, defies Father Time to reach second round

Ivo Karlovic

IMAGE: Croatia's Ivo Karlovic during his first round match against France's Corentin Moutet. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Bashing 39 aces to match his age, Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man to win a match at the Australian Open in over 40 years as he felled Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, a man 18 years his junior, to reach the second round.

On a sweltering day at Melbourne Park, the towering Croat's 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win on Court 19 made him the oldest victor at the tournament since Australian icon Ken Rosewall reached the third round of the 1978 tournament at the age of 44.

World number 73 Karlovic also became the oldest winner at any Grand Slam since a 40-year-old Jimmy Connors beat Jaime Oncins to reach the second round of the 1992 U.S. Open.

Karlovic, whose birthday falls on Feb. 28, will be officially middle-aged next month but said he had no intention of winding down while still fit enough to compete.

"I think I'm healthy so hopefully there will be no injuries," the 6-ft 11-in (2.11 metres) Zagreb man said at Melbourne Park.

"As long as my ranking is up and I get in to all these tournaments, I don't see any reason I should stop."

The oldest man in the men's singles ahead of 37-year-old double defending champion Roger Federer, Karlovic advanced a day after 31-year-old Andy Murray played possibly his last match at Melbourne Park on Monday.

The former world number one Briton has been suffering severe pain in his right hip and said before the tournament that he might have to retire.

Where Murray's all-court, scrambling, defensive game has undoubtedly taken its toll, Karlovic's longevity may be explained in part by his commitment to the now rarely seen art of serve-volley.

Boasting a monster serve and an arm-span that can seem as wide as the court, the Croat keeps points short and sharp.

The style can be picked apart by good passers and the power of modern baseline pounders but it has served former world number 14 Karlovic well in a very respectable career of eight titles.

No rally against Hurkacz exceeded four points and the silver-haired Karlovic sealed the match when the Pole sent an attempted passing shot into the tramlines.

He raised his long arms into the air in triumph as a rowdy smattering of Croatian fans chanted, "Ivo! Ivo! Ivo!"

Why would he want to leave all this, he asked.

"This range of emotions from winning to losing, it's, I don't know, it's different," he said.

Osaka clubs her way into second round

Naomi Osaka

IMAGE: Naomi Osaka during her first round match against Magda Linette of Poland. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Japan's Naomi Osaka clubbed her way into the Australian Open second round by beating Poland's Magda Linette 6-4, 6-2 late on Tuesday.

It was Osaka's first Grand Slam match since her breakthrough US Open triumph last year, which was partly overshadowed by a row between her final opponent Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos.

Osaka's heavy ball striking makes it very difficult for opponents to trade blows with her.

"For me, I'm aware of people saying anyone in the top 10 can be No. 1 right now - but for me, that's not really my goal," Osaka, the fourth seed, told reporters.

"I just want to play well in this tournament."

Linette tried to mitigate her rival's power by standing up near the baseline during rallies to avoid getting pushed too far back.

The tactic worked in part, until the Polish player's error count rose too quickly, such is the risk-reward for such a valiant ploy.

"The balls were really heavy," Linette told Reuters.

"I'm just like 59 kilos, so what can I do?"

Despite possessing more firepower in almost every facet of the game, Osaka's modest-paced second serve allowed her 80th-ranked opponent a strong opening into baseline exchanges.

The two players' average second serve speed was almost identical at around 125 kmh, which is significantly slower than the service speed of Williams, who is the standard bearer.

Osaka will play 21-year-old Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia in the second round.

Evans shoulders slim British hopes against Federer

Nine months after returning from a doping suspension, Dan Evans will look for his biggest victory when he takes on holder Roger Federer at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

After Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie all bit the dust on Monday, Evans continued to carry the flag for Britain as he beat Japan's Tatsuma Ito 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 (8).

It was Evans' first win in the main draw of a Grand Slam in nearly two years, setting up a second round clash with Federer.

The 28-year-old does not have fond memories of his last official meeting with Federer, when he was picked apart by the Swiss at Wimbledon three years ago, but cannot wait to have another crack at the 20-times major winner.

"It's not very often you get to play Roger on obviously a pretty big court, I'm guessing. I look forward to it," Evans, who spent a year on the sidelines after being banned for cocaine use, said.

Third seed Federer kicked off his campaign with a straight-sets win over Uzbek Denis Istomin on Monday and will look to maintain his service rhythm as he bids to reach the Melbourne third round for a 20th consecutive year.

"I think I can be happy how I got out of the blocks from the off-season," Federer said.

"If you don't get broken much... you have so little pressure on the return games, you can really try out different things."

World number two Rafael Nadal will look to continue his steady progress against local hope Matthew Ebden, while big-hitting South African Kevin Anderson takes on American Frances Tiafoe.

In the women's draw, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki will face Swede Johanna Larsson in a first career meeting.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber takes on unseeded Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia.

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