Snapshot from day two at the Open

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Samantha Stosur. The retiring Australian great kicked off her final singles tournament with a stirring 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3 comeback win over American wildcard Robin Anderson, vindicating the 37-year-old’s own wildcard entry.

STAT OF THE DAY: Stosur’s 20th appearance at the Open is the most ever by an Australian woman.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Once you turn 24, you have to find external help and coaches. It’s going to be a massive help for me this year financially, which is great. Then I cannot focus and stress too much about that and just focus on things on court. It’s a huge help” – Australian Maddison Inglis after upsetting US open finalist Leylah Fernandez in straight sets to earn her biggest career pay day with a cheque for at least $154,000.

TOURNAMENT SUMMARY: Men’s second seed Daniil Medvedev cruised into the second round, as did No.5 Andrey Rublev, No.11 Jannik Sinner and No.13 Diego Schwartzman. Ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime overcame a scare from Emil Ruusuvuori to progress in five sets. Anett Kontaveit, Iga Swiatek and Simona Halep were among the top women’s contenders to progress. Of the Australians, Stosur, Inglis and Chris O’Connell advanced, but Daria Saville, Astra Sharma and Priscilla Hon went out in straight sets, while Jordan Thompson lost to Steve Johnson in five.

 

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios has produced a typically lively display on return from a bout of COVID-19 to set up a blockbuster Australian Open second-round clash with tournament favourite Daniil Medvedev.

Less than a fortnight after testing positive to the virus, Kyrgios put some spark into a previously subdued Melbourne Park with a 6-4 6-4 6-3 first-round win over British qualifier Liam Broady on Tuesday night.

The 26-year-old, wearing a red basketball-style singlet and trademark jewellery, lived up to his billing as the game’s greatest showman as he broke Broady’s serve in the opening game and whipped the John Cain Arena crowd into a frenzy.

He then blasted a 220km/h ace and followed it up with a cheeky underhand serve through his legs as he held to love to set the tone for the match.

Kyrgios sent down six aces in his first two service games and finished with 21 for the match, while landing 81 per cent of first serves in a dominant display.

During the second set, Kyrgios took a point when he surprised Broady with a mid-rally shot between his legs and then ripped a curling forehand down the line.

It was one of 41 winners for Kyrgios, ranked 115 in the world, as he delighted his raucous fans, later describing his favourite arena as a “zoo”.

Kyrgios looked calm and comfortable for the most part, without any of the major on-court drama that has hindered him throughout his career.

The impressive display came about a week after Kyrgios was bedridden with COVID-19 and just days after his isolation period ended.

“I had some doubts, a lot of messages (asking) if I was going to play, but I just couldn’t ask for a better team,” Kyrgios said.

“The last week has been tough, I did isolation, my girlfriend was there and I was lucky enough to have a tennis court just to hit some serves.

“Obviously I served f***ing well today.”

It was Kyrgios’ first match since September and the result snapped a five-match losing streak that dated to July.

Kyrgios will now meet second seed Medvedev, who defaulted into favouritism after Novak Djokovic’s extraordinary exit.

World No.2 Medvedev was runner-up to Djokovic at Melbourne Park last year before claiming his maiden major title by toppling the Serbian superstar at the US Open.

The Russian lost to Kyrgios in their two previous meetings – both in 2019.

“He’s an amazing player,” Kyrgios said.

“I knew that he was going to do some special things in this sport and he’s won a grand slam.

“I know that I’m going to have to play some pretty good tennis … and we’ll see what happens.”

 

Ash Barty

Embracing the hype and pressure, Ash Barty has made an early Australian Open statement with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing of Lesia Tsurenko to cruise into the second round.

In a ruthless performance on Rod Laver Arena, a steely eyed Barty raced through the straight-sets victory in just 54 minutes to continue her perfect start to the year.

Australia’s world No.1 opened the season with singles and doubles glory in Adelaide and stamped her Open favouritism once more on Monday night.

In her third consecutive year as the top fancy in her home slam, Barty conceded she still had to handle the butterflies of hitting centre court on opening night.

“It never changes. I think I’m probably more relaxed before I walk out onto court, but once I do walk out there, it’s, for me, always a little bit of a dry mouth and it’s exciting to know that we are warming up to play the Australian Open,” she said.

“You have to be able to enjoy these moments and certainly not take them for granted. So I think it’s probably a little bit twofold.

“I’m quite relaxed before, and I know what I’m going to go out there and try and do.

“But once you do get out there, there is that five minutes for the warm-up and settling in before that first point is played, always nice to settle those butterflies a little bit.”

If Barty felt the weight of expectation, she certainly didn’t show it, appearing relatively nonplussed as she dismantled Tsurenko.

The top seed also played Tsurenko in the first round at Melbourne Park in 2020.

On that occasion, Barty had to fight back from a set down to reach the second round.

But there were few moments of resistance from Tsurenko this time around as an imperious Barty took just 24 minutes to claim the first set, dropping only 12 points.

Barty staved off an early attack from Tsurenko, comfortably saving two break points when leading 2-0, then kicked into another gear to seize the upper hand.

It extended her run of matches without being broken to four, while Barty has now notched 41 consecutive service holds.

“The last kind of five or six matches I felt like I found a really good rhythm on my service games,” she said.

“I’ve been able to get out of some tricky ones and kind of serve my way out of some tricky spots.”

Barty was similarly dominant in the second set, racing through the first five games.

She spurned two match points on Tsurenko’s serve that could have earned her first-round double-bagel wins at the Open two years in a round.

But the Wimbledon champion made no mistake on her own serve, closing out victory in less than an hour.

It came the same day it was announced Barty had donated the outfit she wore during her 2021 Wimbledon triumph, which was a poignant nod to her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley, to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

Barty will play Lucia Bronzetti on Wednesday after the Italian qualifier beat Russia’s Varvara Gracheva 3-6 6-2 6-3.

 

Anna Harrington
(Australian Associated Press)

 

 

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