MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic got his Australian Open title defence off to a rollicking start, breezing past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
The world number one, who has won eight of his 17 major titles at Melbourne Park, rattled off 41 winners and did not face a single break point en route to victory.
Serena Williams kickstarted her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title with a 6-1 6-1 drubbing of Germany’s Laura Siegemund before rushing off the court to watch Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl.
Nick Kyrgios treated the sparse crowd at the John Cain Arena to some vintage moments — a racket thrown across the court, and a few choice words towards his box and the umpire — as he sailed to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva.
Bianca Andreescu was made to work hard on her return to competition after 15 months, but the 2019 U.S. Open winner dug deep to see off Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-2 4-6 6-3.
Alexander Zverev overcame an inconsistent start and a smashed racket to battle past unheralded American Marcos Giron 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2, while U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem fended off Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(2) 6-2 6-3.
Serena channels Olympic champion FloJo with single-legged catsuit
Thiem relieved after coming into Australian Open cold
Nishikori’s ‘high-level’ not enough to stop first-round exit
Age not a factor for Venus, but veteran inspires fellow pros
Distraught Monfils says trapped in “nightmare” after early exit
Former champion Kerber rues hard quarantine after early exit
Osaka gives thumbs up to electronic line judges
Highlights of day one of the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park on Monday. Times local (GMT +11):
TUESDAY, 0048 SHAPOVALOV SEALS COMEBACK WIN OVER SINNER
Canadian 11th seed Denis Shapovalov sealed a hard-fought comeback victory by beating Italian Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 in the opening round.
Shapovalov sent down 12 aces and smashed 62 winners, while Sinner recorded four aces and 26 winners in the match, which lasted three hours and 55 minutes.
2130 SABALENKA SEALS WIN IN STRAIGHT SETS
Belarusian seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka sealed a comfortable 6-0 6-4 win over 100th-ranked Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia to reach the second round.
World number seven Sabalenka struck 21 winners compared to eight from Kuzmova.
2019 HALEP WINS IN STRAIGHT SETS
World number two Simona Halep sealed a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera in the first round at the Rod Laver Arena.
Romanian Halep, a 2018 finalist, hit 14 winners compared to seven from Cabrera, who is ranked 140.
1926 CARRENO BUSTA DOWNS NISHIKORI IN STRAIGHT SETS
Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to the second round with a 7-5 7-6(4) 6-2 win over world number 42 Kei Nishikori.
Carreno Busta, who is seeded 15th, hit 39 winners and sent down 12 aces while Nishikori recorded 36 winners and only three aces.
1730 ZVEREV WOBBLES BUT FIGHTS BACK
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev recovered from a slow start to beat American Marcos Giron 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.
The German made 19 unforced errors in the opening set and lost in a tiebreak but took control later, hitting 50 winners and 16 aces to reach the second round.
1503 10TH SEED MONFILS CRASHES OUT
Frenchman Gael Monfils was beaten 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 by little-known Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in one of the day’s biggest upsets so far.
Monfils, the 10th seed, hit 46 winners but also made 64 unforced errors as he was dumped out in the first round for the second time in his career, the first coming in 2006.
1346 SERENA EASES INTO SECOND ROUND
Serena Williams eased past Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1. The American hit 16 winners as she wrapped up the one-sided contest in just under an hour, and was eager to wind up her post-match interview as quickly as possible to watch the end of the Super Bowl.
“I gotta go! I gotta go! You’re taking too long,” she said.
1300 VENUS BEATS FLIPKENS IN STRAIGHT SETS
Venus Williams beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2 to reach the second round in front of about 200 fans on Margaret Court Arena.
Flipkens made 30 unforced errors compared to just 13 by Williams, who also won more than 80% of her first-serve points.
1224 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION OSAKA THROUGH
Third seed Naomi Osaka was the first player through to the second round after a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“I’m just really happy to see people in the stands. It was a bit lonely in New York, so thank you guys,” Osaka, who cut short her 2020 season after winning the U.S. Open in September, told a small crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
1109 PLAY GETS UNDERWAY AT 109TH AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Play began under leaden skies at Melbourne Park with the temperature hovering around the 17 degrees Celsius mark.
There was one locally acquired case of COVID-19 reported in the state of Victoria on Monday, a worker at a quarantine hotel not associated with the tennis.
The championships were delayed by three weeks to allow all players arriving from abroad to quarantine for two weeks.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Simon Jennings, Manasi Pathak and Arvind Sriram, Editing by Richard Pullin/Peter Rutherford/Andrew Cawthorne/Ed Osmond)