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PIX: Jabeur, Gauff ease into second round; Osaka ousted

Last updated on: January 15, 2024 20:52 IST
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Images from Day 2 of the 2024 Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday

Jabeur eases past Starodubtseva into second round in Melbourne

Ons Jabeur

IMAGE: Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in action during her first round match against Ukraine's Yulia Starodubtseva. Photograph: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

Ons Jabeur began her latest bid to become the first Arab and African woman to claim a Grand Slam title with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Yuliia Starodubtseva on Monday.

The smiling sixth seed - who fans have dubbed Tunisia's 'Minister of Happiness' - came within touching distance of Grand Slam glory previously by reaching the last two Wimbledon finals and finishing runner-up to Iga Swiatek at the 2022 US Open.

"It's very special to come back here," said Jabeur, who crashed out in the second round in 2023 amid health issues. "I decided to rest a bit before the Australian Open and play here.

"Last year wasn't so great for me here and I was a little stressed, but the crowd made me feel less stressed. I saw some guys I've known from 2016 cheering for me when I was playing qualifying. They’ve been following me since qualifying.

"Thank you for coming and supporting me for so many years."

In a tricky opening set, Jabeur twice swapped breaks with her Ukrainian opponent but broke to lead 5-3 after an 11-minute game featuring six deuces before pulling away for the early lead.

The 29-year-old looked far more assured in the second set as she took a 3-1 lead with an overhead smash and almost toyed with her opponent with some delightful slices to seal the victory and set up a meeting with either Mirra Andreeva or Bernarda Pera.

Gauff shakes off service woes to down Schmiedlova

Coco Gauff

IMAGE: Coco Gauff in action during her first round match against Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Fourth seed Coco Gauff made a slightly wobbly start to her Australian Open campaign on Monday before the American found her rhythm to defeat Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-3 6-0 and reach the second round.

Gauff, the newest member of the Grand Slam champions club after her U.S. Open success last September, traded breaks freely with Schmiedlova after her opening service game and came up with a late hold to wrap up the first set.


Coco Gauff

IMAGE: Coco Gauff greets Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova after winning her first round match. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

The 19-year-old stepped up a gear in the next set as Schmiedlova continued to struggle on serve and raced ahead 3-0 with a superb cross-court winner from the deep to draw loud cheers from fans on Rod Laver Arena.

Gauff was barely troubled from there as she served out the match, finishing it off with a neat backhand winner to set up a meeting with fellow American Caroline Dolehide in the next round.

Disappointed Osaka falls at first hurdle on Grand Slam return

Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against France's Caroline Garcia

IMAGE: Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against France's Caroline Garcia. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Naomi Osaka was disappointed to bow out of the Australian Open in the first round on her Grand Slam return on Monday but thought she was making rapid progress in her comeback after 15 months out of the game.

The Japanese former world number one, who took time out to have daughter Shai, went down 6-4, 7-6(2) to French 16th seed Caroline Garcia on the Rod Laver Arena court where she won two of her four Grand Slam titles.

"I thought it was a really good match. For me, I felt like I did the best that I could possibly do," she told reporters.

"I think I still feel like a bit disappointed ... I did feel nervous, but I felt like I kept telling myself to be positive. I thought I kept doing better as the match went on.

"So, yeah, I'm not too happy right now, but I think I can learn from the progress."

Taking on the experienced Garcia was always going to be a big challenge for the 26-year-old Osaka, who had played only two matches in Brisbane two weeks ago since her return to tournament tennis.

A double fault gave Garcia the first break point of the match in the fifth game and the former world number four converted it to edge ahead.

Osaka had a sniff of a break back at deuce in the eighth game but dumped a routine backhand into the net and Garcia held with back-to-back aces before going on to take the set.

Twice US Open champion Osaka won her first three service games of the second set to love, but Garcia was serving so well that Osaka was unable to build any pressure with her returns.

"I felt like I was constantly on my back foot and really hesitant," Osaka added.

"I was a little bit overthinking in my head where to go. I think that's something that will come in time, but right now it kind of sucks a little."

It was Osaka's earliest exit in eight visits to the Australian Open and her third successive loss in the opening round of a Grand Slam after she fell at the first hurdle at the French and U.S. Opens in 2022.

Fortunate Medvedev advances after Atmane retires 

Russia's Daniil Medvedev consoles France's Terence Atmane after the latter retired from their first round match 

IMAGE: Russia's Daniil Medvedev consoles France's Terence Atmane after the latter retired from their first round match. Photograph: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

Third seed Daniil Medvedev was perhaps fortunate that his opponent, Terence Atmane, retired injured during his opening match on a sunbathed Margaret Court Arena.

The French qualifier, who had taken the first set off the 2021 U.S. Open champion before Medvedev levelled the contest, was holding his own in the third when he began suffering severe cramps in his thigh.

The 22-year-old struggled on for almost an hour but finally called time on his first Grand Slam main draw match while trailing the Russian 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 1-0.

"I played badly at the start of the first set," Medvedev said. "When I started feeling better physically, he started cramping. It was brutal conditions out there."

 Wonder shot helps Tsitsipas into second round in Melbourne

Stefanos Tsitsipas

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after winning his first round match against Belgium's Zizou Bergs. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Stefanos Tsitsipas produced an extraordinary, balletic shot at a clutch moment in his opening match at the Australian Open to help him past lucky loser Zizou Bergs and into the second round.

The Greek seventh seed had lost the opening set to the world number 129 on Rod Laver Arena but had grabbed a break point at the start of the second when his Belgian opponent sent the ball just over the net.

Tsitsipas raced in and reached over into the other side of the court to slap the ball off the ground towards the umpire and win the point, all the while somehow managing to avoid touching the net to avoid being penalised.

The crowd gasped and Bergs put his hand over his mouth in astonishment as Tsitsipas took the break and a 2-0 lead on his way to a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory.

"That shot was extraordinary, I don't even know how I got that shot," Tsitsipas said.

"I thought for a split second when he hit that underspin volley 'that's it, I'll have to prepare for the next point'."

"But I guess not wanting to give up and just giving it a try gave me the point that I believe turned around the match today."

Tsitsipas was supposed to play Matteo Berrettini in the first round but the Italian withdrew with a foot injury on Sunday and he instead faced Bergs.

Seventh seed Vondrousova sent packing by Yastremska

Dayana Yastremska

IMAGE: Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska celebrates winning her first round match against Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/Reuters

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova crashed to a stunning defeat in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday as Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska outclassed her 6-1 6-2.

Seventh seed Vondrousova, who arrived in Melbourne after a hip issue forced her to withdraw from the warm-up tournament in Adelaide, quickly found herself 5-0 down in the opening set as Yastremska sensed an opportunity for a big upset.

Marketa Vondrousova

IMAGE: Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova looks dejected. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/Reuters

The 24-year-old Czech, who became the first unseeded woman to claim the All England title last year, got on the scoreboard late in the first set but the powerful Yastremska had built up far too much momentum and wrapped it up in style.

Yastremska, the world number 93 who reached the third round at Melbourne Park in 2019, secured the early break in the second set as her opponent continued to spray the errors and the 23-year-old held firm to seal the victory.

De Minaur advances to round two after Raonic retirement

Alex de Minaur

IMAGE: Australia's Alex de Minaur in action during his first round match against Canada's Milos Raonic. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Home favourite Alex de Minaur eased into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-7(6), 6-3, 2-0 victory after his Canadian opponent Milos Raonic retired injured early in the third set.

Raonic, a former world number three, arrived in Melbourne ranked 317th in the world after struggling with various injuries for more than two years and having not played a competitive match since November.

But the 33-year-old Canadian rolled back the years with a serving masterclass in the opening set, racing through his service games without facing a break point before winning a tiebreak to take a shock lead in the match.

De Minaur, the 10th seed, came out firing at the start of the second as Raonic visibly tired and appeared to be favouring his hip.

The Australian broke to take a 4-2 lead in the second as his opponent's levels dropped further, and levelled the match when Raonic missed with a backhand.

The Canadian was broken again at the start of the third set, before throwing in the towel in the next game.

Up next for the home hope is a second round clash with Italy's Matteo Arnaldi, who beat Australian wild card Adam Walton in his opening encounter.

Wawrinka, Murray knocked out; Monfils advances

Chile's Nicolas Jarry reacts during his first round match against Italy's Flavio Cobolli

IMAGE: Chile's Nicolas Jarry reacts during his first round match against Italy's Flavio Cobolli. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/Reuters

There were emotional scenes on Court 13 where Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli won his first Grand Slam main draw match with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 upset of Chilean 18th seed Nicolas Jarry.

Stan Wawrinka, the only man apart from Djokovic in the field to have won the title, later took Adrian Mannarino to five sets before bowing out 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.

While the 38-year-old Swiss said he hoped to return, Britain's Andy Murray said his 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 loss to Tomas Martin Etcheverry might be his last match at Melbourne Park.

"It's a definite possibility that will be the last time I play here. I think probably because of how the match went and everything, I don't know," said the 36-year-old, who has lost five finals at Melbourne Park.

Argentine Etcheverry plays another seasoned campaigner in Gael Monfils next after the Frenchman defeated Yannick Hanfmann 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 to join wife Elina Svitolina, an earlier 6-2, 6-2 winner over Australian Taylah Preston, in the second round.

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